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Culture

The Venice International Film Festival Opens Tonight. Here’s What To Expect.

The Venice International Film Festival starts today and runs through September 8. And of course, Jewish directors are bringing their A-game.

In competition for the famous Golden Lion award are three pictures by already-celebrated Jewish auteurs. Joel and Ethan Coen are presenting “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” a Netflix-produced Western anthology starring Tim Blake Nelson in the title role. “Son of Saul” director Laszlo Nemes is also on the bill with his much-awaited follow-up feature “Sunset,” a coming of age film set in pre-World War I Budapest. Also in the fight for best in show is Julian Schnabel’s Van Gogh biopic, “At Eternity’s Gate,” which stars Willem Dafoe as the painter of “Starry Night.”

Israeli director Amos Gitai has two entries in the festival’s non-competitive categories: “A Tramway in Jerusalem,” a panorama of the titular city’s many ethnic and religious groups brought together by public transit, and “A Letter to a Friend in Gaza,” a documentary short. In other documentary news, Frederick Wiseman’s feature “Monrovia, Indiana,” a portrait of the small heartland town, will also receive a festival screening. But the most exciting news coming from the nonfiction field is that Errol Morris’ “American Dharma,” his closely-guarded documentary about one Steve Bannon, will premiere, finally put to rest our speculations as to what exactly the movie is.

Joining our tribe of diverse directors are Damian Chezelle — a Catholic who went to Hebrew school; make what you will of that — who opens the festival with his Neal Armstrong biopic “First Man,” Alfonso Cuaron with the family drama “Roma” and “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino with a remake of Dario Argento’s horror flick “Suspiria.” Also exciting is the recently completed Orson Welles film “The Other Side of the Wind,” assembled from the late director’s footage by some of the luminary’s disciples.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at grisar@forward.com

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