10 Films Generating Buzz At The 2016 Venice Film Festival

Palazzo del Cinema | © WikiCommons/Nicolas Genin
Palazzo del Cinema | © WikiCommons/Nicolas Genin
Picture of Livia Hengel
Updated: 8 January 2017
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Here’s the lowdown on 1o of the hottest tickets at the 73rd edition of the Venice Film Festival. The event has been gaining increasing attention because it is becoming a launchpad for Oscar contenders. How many of these movies will be on the Academy Awards ballot come February?

The Light Between Oceans

This heartbreaking drama, based on M.L. Stedman‘s novel, tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who live on the coast of Western Australia. They rescue a baby who arrives on their shore in a rowboat, and this decision changes the course of their lives. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz. Director Derek Cianfrance is best-known for Blue Valentine, for which he won the Most Promising Filmmaker Award from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

La La Land

The musical La La Land, written and directed by Academy Award nominee Damien Chazelle, is set in modern-day Los Angeles and tells the story of a jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) who falls for an aspiring actress (Emma Stone), both of whom are trying to pursue their dreams and are forced to grapple with their conflicting ambitions. The film is the festival’s opener.

Nocturnal Animals

Fashion designer and director Tom Ford‘s thriller is based on a novel by Austin Wright, Tony and Susan, which Ford adapted himself. It is Ford’s first feature since his highly praised A Single Man premiered at Venice in 2009. This dual-narrative film noir stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Linney, and Isla Fisher.


This long-awaited biopic of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stars Natalie Portman as the former First Lady and is directed by Chilean director Pablo Larraín. It recounts four days in Jackie’s life, beginning just before the the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in Texas in 1963, and focuses on the days that follow. It also stars Greta Gerwig and Peter Sarsgaard.


The title of this Italian film, directed by Roan Johnson, translates to “Feather” and tells the story of a young couple facing an unexpected pregnancy. The two must learn to navigate the ensuing hardships through resilience, youthful optimism, and their purity of heart.


This science-fiction drama, directed by Denis Villeneuve, competes for the Golden Lion in Venice this year. It stars five-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams as a linguist recruited by the US government after an alien spacecraft lands on Earth. She must decipher the extraterrestrial language to determine whether the visitors have come in peace or are a threat. The cast also includes Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Stuhlbarg.


François Ozon’s latest film takes place in the aftermath of World War II. It details a tumultuous relationship between a young German woman, grieving the loss of her fiancé in France, and his closest friend. It stars Paula Beer and Pierre Niney.

Voyage of Time

This documentary, which has been in the works for over 40 years, is finally making its debut. Written and directed by Terrence Malick, known for his philosophical themes, it examines the birth and death of the universe. Cate Blanchett narrates the feature-length edition that will premiere at Venice, while Brad Pitt narrates the 40-minute version that will be released in IMAX.

Questi Giorni

Another Italian film making its debut this year is Questi Giorni (‘These Days’), directed by Giuseppe Piccioni. It follows the daily lives, feelings, and aspirations of four young girls who share a strong bond that is tried and tested during a road trip to Belgrade. The film elaborates on the inner lives of adolescents, the sweet melancholy of this expectant time, and the self-discoveries of youth.

The Bad Batch

Perhaps one of the strangest films to premiere at Venice is Ana Lily Amirpour‘s dystopian romantic horror film The Bad Batch. Set in a post-apocalyptic Texas wasteland, it depicts a community of cannibals who break the rule “don’t play with your food.” The impressive cast includes Suki Waterhouse, Keanu Reeves, Jason Momoa, and Jim Carrey.

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