Culture / Film

8 movies to know ahead of their Venice Film Festival debut

No one ever wants to wave goodbye to summer, but Venice Film Festival is a nice way to do it. Celebrating its 80th year, the Italian cinema spectacle will kick off on August 30 and run until September 9. As audiences sit down to premieres of Sofia Coppola's Priscilla and Olmo Schnabel's Pet Shop Days, there will be a notable absence of actors, who have decided to skip it in solidarity with the current and ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Still, there's plenty of films to get excited for. Below, we've selected eight movies making their debut at the 2023 Venice Film Festival that you'll want to keep an eye on.

Poor Things 

Based on the novel by Alasdair Gray, Yorgos Lanthimos will premiere his film Poor Things, Frankenstein-esque adaptation which he says is "a Victorian tale of love, discovery and scientific daring". The film has been hit with an R-rating for its strong and pervasive sexual content, gore and disturbing material, which sounds exactly in line with Lanthimos' style. Expect a star-studded ensemble, from Lanthimos favourites like Emma Stone and Willem DaFoe, to fresh faces to his cinematic-universe like Margaret Qualley and Mark Ruffalo. The cast will also feature Christopher Abbott, Ramy Youssef, Jerrod Carmichael and Kathryn Hunter.



Michael Mann will debut his film Ferrari to the Italians at Venice Film Festival. The movie, starring Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz, is set in the summer of 1957 and follows a turbulent period in Enzo and Laura Ferrari's lives. The Ferrari co-founders are on the brink of divorce, the health of their only son Dino is on the decline, and they are facing bankruptcy over their empire. At this crucial period, Enzo and a team of drivers decide to enter the historic Mille Miglia race, taking them 1,000 miles across Italy. It's giving shades of House of Gucci, with Driver's Italian accent and the promise of a cameo from Enzo's mistress Lina Lardi, played by Shailene Woodley.



Remember that saying, "behind every great man is a great woman?" Well Sofia Coppola is narrowing her gaze on the early and interior life of Priscilla Presley and her marriage to Elvis aged 22, using Priscilla's 1985 memoir as the film's source material. The movie has been dubbed a refreshing antithesis to Baz Luhrmann's gaudy Elvis biopic, and received a blessing from Priscilla herself, despite the Presley estate (85% of which is owned by Authentic Brands Group) denying the film's request to use original music. Priscilla praised Coppola, saying, "She has such an extraordinary perspective and I have always been such an admirer of her work. I’m certain this movie will take everyone on an emotional journey". Starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi, the film will feature an indie rock soundtrack instead. We can't wait to see it.


Pet Shop Days

Olmo Schnabel, son of artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, makes his directorial debut with Pet Shop Days. Set in New York City, the film follows rebellious Alejandro, who runs away and meets a like-minded pet shop employee, Jack. Both are consumed by their own familial grievances and find solitude in each other's company, quickly descending into a whirlwind romance fuelled by debauchery. Martin Scorsese liked it so much he signed on as producer. It stars newcomers, Dario Yazebek Bernal and Jack Irv, as well as heavyweights like Willem Dafoe, Peter Sarsgaard and model Camille Rowe.


The Beast

venice film festival 2023

Set in a dystopic future in which emotions have become a threat, Léa Seydoux plays Gabrielle, a woman who has decided to purify her DNA with a machine that purges her past selves of any strong feelings. While stepping through time, she encounters Louis, played by the wonderful George MacKay, and feels an uncanny connection as if she's known him forever.



venice film festival 2023

Luc Besson, the French director of Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, has tapped Caleb Landry Jones to star in his comeback film Dogman. The movie follows Landry Jones as Douglas, a man who was abused by his father as a child and then thrown to the dogs. Rather than attack him, the dogs took Douglas in and protected him. Dogman shows Douglas as an adult, healing from the trauma with the help of his dogs. Variety describes his methods as "bending societal rules and going overboard with his love of dogs", which kind of makes it sound like the film wanders into beastiality. Pray that it doesn't.


The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

venice film festival 2023

Wes Anderson is returning to the world of Roald Dahl, adapting a series of darker, twisted short stories written by the Welsh author for an adult audience. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, funded by Netflix and based on the 1977 book of the same name, comes in at a short 37 minutes total and stars Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Kingsley and  Richard Ayoade.



venice film festival 2023

There has been no shortage of controversy around Bradley Cooper's biopic of the great conductor, Leonard Bernstein. Critics have noted that the prosthetic nose Cooper wears is exaggerated and invokes anti-semitic stereotypes. Audiences are angry on Jake Gyllenhaal's behalf that Cooper ultimately won the bid to make the film. Why is Carey Mulligan playing Bernstein's Costa Rican-Chilean wife? We'll soon see if people feel differently once Maestro premieres.

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Images: @poorthingsfilm @priscillamovie