Actors and directors from around the world get together in Venice for the world's oldest film festival. Among them is prominent German director Wim Wenders, hoping to score his second Golden Lion.
The 73rd Venice Film Festival is due to open with a musical film from Hollywood. US director Damien Chazelle presents his movie "La La Land" on the first day of the festival - an homage to the classical era of American film musicals. The film stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who are both expected to attend the opening ceremony.
Out of respect towards the victims of the recent earthquake in central Italy, the official opening party was, however, canceled.
German talent at Venice Film Festival
German director Wim Wenders is among 20 directors invited to compete for the Golden Lion award at this year's Venice Film Festival. His film "The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez" is due to run at the beginning of the contest on September 1.
Wenders, who was awarded a Golden Lion for "The State of Things" in 1982, now presents an intimate summer love story featuring a couple that discovers the nature of relationship and the difference between the genders.
Wenders' movie is based on a work by author Peter Handke.
German euros at work
In addition to Wenders' film, Germany is also represented at the festival through a number of co-productions, and German film financing is invested in five other contributions as well. These include the documentary "Voyage of Time: Life's Journey" by Terrence Malick (USA), which focuses on the origin of Earth, as well as the latest film by French director François Ozon, "Frantz." Set after the end of World War I, it is about a tender love affair between a German war widow and a French soldier.
German companies also co-produced films by Russian director Andrei Kontchalovsky ("Paradise"), Dutch director Martin Kollhoven ("Brimstone") and Mexican director Amat Escalante ("The Untamed").
Female directors underrepresented
Only the US has invested even more money into films running in the race for the Golden and Silver Lions than Germany has. The latest movie by Ana Lily Amirpour has triggered a lot of interest, as she is the only female director in the competition - apart from her co-director Martina Parenti ("Spira Mirabilis").
The British director of Iranian heritage, who had managed to impress critics with her debut film "A Girl Walks Home Alone a Night" last year, presents "The Bad Batch," a film on cannibalism, in Venice.
The festival highlights how, in a globalized film industry, the nationality of directors doesn't always correspond with the countries of origin of the films, as 13 of the 20 movies in the competition are international co-productions.
Other countries beyond Europe and North America are represented at the Venice Film Festival as well; Chilean director Pablo Larraín presents his film "Jackie," a biography of former US first lady Jaqueline Kennedy (played by Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman).
Mel Gibson's comeback
Many critics are also likely to be interested in the latest epic of Bosnian-Serbian director Emir Kusturica, who will be presenting his first movie at the event in almost 10 years. "On the Milky Road" is about love during the Bosnian war. The subject of war is the unofficial topic of this year's Venice Film Festival.
Australian actor and director Mel Gibson is celebrating a comeback with his latest film "Hacksaw Ridge," which focuses on one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Based on true events, the film tells the story of soldier Desmond Doss, who served in the US army but refused to take up arms due to his faith. The movie will not compete for any awards.
Like Mel Gibson's film, the German documentary "Austerlitz" will also be shown out of competition. In "Austerlitz," renowned Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa explores the present day role of former Nazi concentration camps as tourist attractions, and how they affect the awareness of young people today.
Sam Mendes heads jury
British director Sam Mendes will head this year's jury, supported by German actress Nina Hoss. The eight jury members will face a difficult task, as they have to judge many diverse films ranging from love dramas to historical topics, encompassing both movies and documentaries.
And there can be only one Golden Lion at the end - in addition to two lions as lifetime achievement awards, which will go to French actor Jean-Pierre Belmondo and Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski.