Black Swan Opens 67th Venice Biennale; American Films Expected; Where's Margaret?

by Anne Thompson
July 22, 2010 2:20 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
Not completed in time for Cannes, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan will make its world debut as the opening night film at the Venice Film Festival, which runs on The Lido from September 1 through September 11. This means that while I will see it there, Black Swan will likely not play the other fall fests.

Other American films expected to debut in Venice include Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, Julian Schnabel's Miral, Ben Affleck's The Town and Al Pacino's Wilde Salome. Weinstein Co's U.K. entry The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth as King George VI, may also make the Venice line-up. Films that are not booked for opening night usually do play the fall fest circuit. UPDATE: Contrary to reports, The American, starring George Clooney, will not play Venice. It opens on September 1 stateside.

Thompson on Hollywood
Aronofsky is an old hand at Venice, where he won the Golden Lion in 2008 for The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke, and also showed The Fountain in 2006. You never know what to expect from Aronofsky, who doesn't settle into conventional forms for his films, from his 1998 debut Pi to the intense drug drama Requiem for a Dream in 2000.

Entered in the competition for the Golden Lion, Black Swan is a psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as Nina, a New York ballet dancer locked into an intense rivalry with fellow ballerina Mila Kunis. Much like Michael Powell's The Red Shoes, Nina becomes too identified with her role as the swan queen in a ballet. Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder co-star.

Written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin, the film is produced by Protozoa Pictures and Phoenix Pictures. Distrib Fox Searchlight Pictures presents in association with Cross Creek Pictures. Searchlight's strong awards season line-up also includes Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go, starring Keira Knightly and Cary Mulligan, and Tony Goldwyn's Conviction, starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell.

Which reminds me. Yet another fall season is coming up without mention of Kenneth Lonergan's sophomore film Margaret, starring Matt Damon (a major movie star), Mark Ruffalo (a rising one) and Anna Paquin (who has developed a True Blood following).

Lonergan's follow-up to sibling drama You Can Count on Me, which nabbed two Oscar noms, has been gathering dust for four years since it was filmed in the fall of 2005. Margaret, about a young woman who gets involved in the aftermath of an accident, was epic in length (Olivia Thirlby claimed 300 pages were shot). Somehow the filmmaker got bogged down cutting it into releasable form, and two lawsuits resulted. UPDATE: Searchlight states: "we do have a finished cut by Lonergan and we plan to release the film sometime in 2011."

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