Comic-Con may be ongoing, but it’s also time to start talking about the fall film festival season. Indeed, this week saw two major film festival announcements that give us details on how two of the year’s biggest awards contenders will be laid out. First up, reigning Best Director champion Damien Chazelle’s NASA-centric film First Man will be the opening night film at the Venice Film Festival. The picture stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and chronicles the difficult, deadly journey that led to the first man walking on the moon.
Chazelle co-wrote First Man with Oscar-winning Spotlight co-writer Josh Singer and his cast is stacked with talent, including Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, and Jason Clarke. The first trailer was eye-popping, and while the case could be made that this Universal Pictures film is shaping up to be this year’s Gravity, it feels like Chazelle may have something wholly unique up his sleeve with this one.
The Venice Film Festival is the first festival that gets underway in late August, with First Man poised to debut on August 29th. Guillermo del Toro is heading the festival jury, but First Man is also expected to play at either or both the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, which follow directly after Venice. Also premiering at Venice this year, per Variety, will be Suspiria, The Sisters Brothers, and Beautiful Boy.
And then there’s the New York Film Festival in September, which has secured Oscar-winning Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron’s highly anticipated new film ROMA. This is Cuaron’s first film in five years, as he’s known to take long breaks between projects but we get ambitious pictures like Children of Men or Y Tu Mama Tambien. ROMA goes back to basics for the Mexican director, as it’s described as an autobiographically inspired film set in Mexico in the early 70s. The audience follows a year in the life of a middle-class family. The official synopsis is as follows:
“In Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographically inspired film, set in Mexico City in the early ’70s, we are placed within the physical and emotional terrain of a middle-class family whose center is quietly and unassumingly held by its beloved live-in nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). The cast is uniformly magnificent, but the real star of ‘ROMA’ is the world itself, fully present and vibrantly alive, from sudden life-changing events to the slightest shifts in mood and atmosphere. Cuarón tells us an epic story of everyday life while also gently sweeping us into a vast cinematic experience, in which time and space breathe and majestically unfold. Shot in breathtaking black and white and featuring a sound design that represents something new in the medium, ‘ROMA’ is a truly visionary work.”
Visually ROMA sounds like something else, but it’s a Netflix production so unfortunately most folks will experience this at home on their TV screens. The film will have its “New York premiere” as the centerpiece film of the New York Film Festival on October 5th, with the NYFF running from September 28th through October 14th. That means ROMA will almost certainly also play some combination of Venice, Telluride, and TIFF.
If Netflix is smart, they’ll play it at all three festivals to give journalists a chance to see this one on the big screen. The streaming service recently poached leading awards strategist Lisa Taback, so they’re serious about Oscars this year. This could be interesting.
Stay tuned, folks. There’s much more where this came from.