"Under The Skin" (dir. Jonathan Glazer)
Cast: Scarlett Johansson
One of our most anticipated films of the year is the return of "Sexy Beast" director Jonathan Glazer, with his adaptation of Michel Faber's novel about a man-eating alien, to be played by Scarlett Johansson. The director's last film, "Birth" premiered at Venice, which might make it a good bet, adn given the movie shot last year, it should be wrapped up by then. The only question is whether Glazer would want to come back -- "Birth" was received with hostility on the Lido seven years ago (although its critical standing has only grown since), and given this has every potential to divide audiences even further, he may not be keen to repeat the experience. Moreover, TIFF or the London Film Festival -- also under new creative leadership looking to make a mark -- may be angling for the pic as well.
"Dormant Beauty"/"Siberian Education"/"The Commander & The Stork" (dir. Marco Bellocchio/Gabriele Salvatores/Silvio Soldini)
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Alba Rohrwacher (x2)/John Malkovich, Peter Stormare, Eleanor Tomlinson/Claudia Gerini
Along with Malick, Anderson and DePalma, Barbera also mentioned three Italian directors he expected to be part of the line up, and barring any complications, there's no reason to think that any of Marco Bellocchio, Gabriele Salvatores or Silvio Soldini will be absent. Soldini's film, "The Commander And The Stork," centers on a romance between a widowed father and a young poverty-stricken artist, while Salvatores' pic has an international cast including John Malkovich, Peter Stormare and Eleanor Tomlinson for his tale, which is set in the breakaway republic of Transnistria on the Moldovan/Ukranian border. Bellocchio's film has the potential to be the most hot-button film there, as it's based on a case that dominated Italian headlines about an actress (Huppert) fighting to turn off life support for her vegetative daughter.
Cast: Monica Bellucci, Beren Saat, Behrouz Vossoughi
Given that it wrapped in the spring of 2011, it was a real surprise not to see Bahman Ghobadi's follow-up to the excellent "No One Knows About Persian Cats" in the line-up for either Berlin or Cannes. But with the director having cast his multi-generational love story with Italian megastar Monica Belucci, Venice would seem to be an excellent bet for the premiere of the film, which looks to be a more mature effort from the director. The only possibility is if he's having issues with the Iranian authorities with the film, but we'd wager this'll be in there somewhere.
"Pieta" (dir. Kim Ki-duk)
Cast: Jo Min-soo, Lee Jeong-jin
Korean director Kim Ki-duk ("Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring," "3-Iron") has been on a busy in the last year or so, with "Arirang" and "Amen" both premiering at festivals last year. His new one, the director's 18th film, started filming in February and involves a loan shark who is reunited with a woman who claims to be his mother. Granted, for most filmmakers, that might mark a tight turn-around, but given how prolific he normally is, and his best director prize at the festival for "3-Iron" in 2004, we think this is a really strong candidate for a place in the competition.