As fall festivals start announcing their lineups in the coming weeks, with Toronto and Venice both scheduled to do so in two weeks time, I’ve been getting more and more intel on the behind-the-scenes goings on happening at both festivals. I’ll keep leaking the info through a series of articles in the coming days. However, most imminently, I want to tackle Venice boss Alberto Barbera’s struggles to find female directors for his competition lineup.
It’s no secret that, at least Stateside, there’s been immense pressure on film festivals to be more inclusive, try to include more female directors into their lineups, but Venice is currently struggling to do just that because, well, they just can’t seem to find any big-name female directors. Many were hoping the likes of Greta Gerwig, Marielle Heller, Chloe Zhao. Miranda July, Kelly Reichardt, and Josephine Decker would make the fall festival rounds this coming August/September, but, given Toronto’s stricter policies for submitting films this year and the overall lack of big-name female directors available, it’s been a real struggle for Barbera (according to ICSF’s very reliable Cedric Succivalli ) to find female-directed films he’s loved and which would be worthy of a competition slot.
Gerwig’s “Little Women” has been receiving mixed responses in test screenings, but, I am told, that it will indeed be going to Toronto, ditto Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which, understandably, may not be so well-suited for Venice competition given the fact that it tackles Fred Rogers, a man known mostly to Americans. As for Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow,” the talented writer-director has a knack for taking her time in completing her films, “First Cow” is no exception —a lot of people pushing for this film to premiere this year may have to wait until Sundance 2020. I don’t know too much about the issues that stem from Chloe Zhao, Miranda July and Josephine Decker’s movies, but there clearly are issues to include them at Venice (possibly TIFF’s Platform section, which encompasses only World Premieres, has already locked them up).