This year's Venice International Film Festival was a look at cinema's legacy. In addition to the lifetime awards given to Brian de Palma, Bertrand Tavernier, Jonathan Demme and Arturo Ripstein, there were numerous films examining the histories of directors and stars. Documentaries reviewed the careers of De Palma, Jacques Tourneur, Guy Maddin, Toshiro Mifune, Helmut Berger and Lina Wertmüller. Wertmüller rarely gets much international attention these days, although it must be admitted that her "On A Moonlit Night" (1989) remains a rich enigma, with the kind of wild ambition and scope – fusing contemporary dance, AIDS, advertising, true love and opera – which few directors dare to take on.
The main competition included work from some of cinema's major innovators: Charlie Kaufman, Alexander Sokurov, Jerzy Skolimowski, and of course, the great Marco Bellocchio. Perhaps more than any other director, Bellocchio has explored the making of memories and history, showing how people can undergo a shared hallucination which later becomes universally accepted as reality.
On that note, one of the revelations of the Horizons section was the exhilarating and terrifying "The Childhood of a Leader". Although it might be taken for the late work of a European master, this film is the debut of 27-year-old American director Brady Corbet: an investigation of power and the psychological complexes which underlie oppression and megalomania. It is an astonishingly assured film, as spectacular and precisely orchestrated as its thunderous soundtrack. (Lesley Chow)
Venice International Film Festival: www.labiennale.org