ROME (AFP) – Stars including Robert de Niro, Brad Pitt and Scarlett Johansson will attend this year’s Venice Film Festival, organisers said on Thursday (July 25), with 21 films vying for the Lion d’Or although only two by women made the cut.

“Numerous films this year deal with the theme of the feminine condition in the world which, even when directed by men, reveal a new sensitivity, proof that the scandals of recent years have left their mark on our culture,” Mostra director Alberto Barbera said.

The festival was criticised last year for selecting just one film directed by a woman, and this year the number has doubled.

Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa al-Mansour will screen The Perfect Candidate about a female doctor trying to run in local elections in the conservative kingdom.

Australian comedy Babyteeth by Shannon Murphy is also competing.

The 76th Venice festival opens on Aug 28 with Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth, featuring French stars Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as well as Ethan Hawke.

The film tells the tale of a French cinema star whose decision to publish her memoirs prompts a mother-daughter reunion which turns fiery.

Many American stars and big Hollywood productions feature at the festival, seen by many as a springboard for Oscar success.

Pitt stars in the highly-anticipated Ada Astra, a science fiction film directed by James Gray about an astronaut travelling in the solar system in search of his father.

De Niro will attend the premiere of Joker, directed by Todd Phillips and tracing the origins of Batman’s famous enemy, with the grimacing superclown played by Joaquin Phoenix.

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Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat will also be shown, a thriller about the Panama Papers investigation starring Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman and Meryl Streep.

The Panama Papers are leaked documents which show how the ultra-rich can exploit secretive offshore tax havens.

Controversially, the festival will also show Franco-Polish director Roman Polanski’s J’accus about France’s 19th century Dreyfus political scandal, starring Jean Dujardin.

Polanski fled to France in 1978 after admitting the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in the United States.

The 85-year-old has been a fugitive ever since from the US justice system, despite repeated attempts to have him extradited.

The festival closes on Sept 7 with Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi’s The Burnt Orange Heresy, starring Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland.

The film, which is screened out of competition, tracks a bid to steal a work from a famous artist.





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