Happy Friday International Insiders. Tom Grater here with the week’s top international news. To get this sent to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.

Life On The Lido

Andreas reports from Venice: Despite the Covid backdrop, the Venice Film Festival got underway this week with most of its usual glamour and excitement. The festival’s first 24 hours included debuts for new movies from international heavyweights including Pedro Almodovar, Paolo Sorrentino and Jane Campion. A-Listers such as Penelope Cruz, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain are just a few of the names already on the Lido. The gifts keep on coming for those at the festival, with Friday morning’s anticipated double bill comprising Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Pablo Larrain’s Spencer. It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the festival, however. Increased Covid checks on the way into screenings have led to longer-than-usual queues and a number of press screenings being delayed or having dozens of critics and industry streaming in after the movies have started. Catch up with all our Venice coverage here.

The Heaven’s Gate of sci-fi: As one Dune premieres, Deadline this week took you back to David Lynch’s ill-fated 1984 version, which was a box office bomb but remains a fascination for many movie fans. Andreas has a uniquely personal connection to the movie, as is noted in this insightful and fascinating interview with the original film’s star, Francesca Annis.

Watch on Deadline

Counting Cards: Paul Schrader was on good form when Deadline caught up with the filmmaker ahead of the festival to discuss his Oscar Isaac-starring movie The Card Counter, which premiered yesterday. Discussion points included being ejected from a celebrity quarantine poker game, and why Focus Features have stopped him from posting on Facebook until the movie comes out. As per usual, Schrader says it all with a cheeky glint in his eye.

Disrupting: Super producer Alexander Rodnyansky is always busy. This fall, his new film Mama, I’m Home is premiering in Venice’s Horizons section, while his Cannes Un Certain Regard winner Unclenching The Fists is set to screen in Telluride. Diana caught up with the indie film stalwart to discuss his upcoming plans in our latest International Disruptors feature.

Pressers: Alongside our interviews, we also had the key Venice press conferences covered, from Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers, to Jane Campion and Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power Of The Dog, Denis Villeneuve and Timothée Chalamet for Dune, and Paolo Sorrentino and Toni Servillo for The Hand Of God.

Reviews round-up: Our critics have been busy on the Lido, check our their write-ups for: The Card Counter; The Power Of The Dog; Parallel Mothers.

Theatrical Calendar Shuffle

Danger zone: Releasing a tentpole movie during the ongoing pandemic continues to be viewed as a risk, and not one Paramount is willing to take on two of its upcoming potential blockbusters: Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible 7. The Tom Cruise action pair have shifted to May 27, 2022 (from November 19, 2021) and September 30, 2022 (from May 27, 2022) respectively, leaving a couple of sizeable void on a release calendar that, at least for the near future, already has plenty of holes. Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife is taking over the pre-Thanksgiving spot vacated by Top Gun. Exhibitor eyes continue to be trailed on James Bond pic No Time To Die, which is set to release at the end of this month, but never say never…

Serious About Series

Down to business: Series Mania took place this week, running physically in the French city of Lille as well as simultaneously on its virtual platform. Highlights included talks with Netflix, Disney+, and WarnerMedia; the latter also revealed HBO Max will rollout into further territories this year and next. Elsewhere, Diana sat down with Banijay’s head of scripted for a wide-ranging chat. The festival crowned its award winners yesterday, with Icelandic show Blackport scooping the top prize, while its Forum Best Project Award was handed out earlier in the week. Read our full coverage from the French event here.

Off To The Races

Scoop! Poland has become the first European country to makes its submission to the Academy for the International Oscar race this year, selecting upcoming Venice premiere Leave No Traces. Read our exclusive.

The Essentials

🌶️  Hot one of the week: Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver are attached to lead Master Gardener, a crime thriller from The Card Counter director Paul Scharder.

🌶️  Another one: Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone is set to star in a romantic comedy for STXfilms and Temple Hill.

🍿  International box officeFree Guy continues to lead the way in the international market.

🚚  On the move: VFX firm DNEG has promoted Tom Jacomb to President and made five hires. Asif Zubairy, the Commissioning Editor in ITV’s entertainment team, has left the broadcaster.

🤝 Done deals: Netflix has inked a multi-year first-look deal with actress and producer Vanessa Kirby and her production company Aluna Entertainment. The streamer has also entered into a multi-year partnership with Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar’s Mumbai-based Excel Entertainment.

🏆 Awards circuit: The Karlovy Vary and Jerusalem film festivals crowned their award winners this week.

🎦 Trailer watch: Check out Toni Servillo and Silvio Orlando in Venice pic Ariaferma; a first clip from Leonard Cohen doc Hallelujah; and a first clip from Terence Davies’ Siegfried Sassoon biopic Benediction ahead of its Toronto premiere.

And finally…

Here’s an unusual one. Production has wrapped in the Ukraine on SHTTL, an ambitious under-the-radar drama from director Ady Walter. The film tells the story of the inhabitants of a Yiddish village at the border of Poland, 24 hours before the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany (aka the Barbarossa operation) which would take their lives. The film was shot at a purpose-built village that, intriguingly, will now be transformed into an open-air museum. Read more.

Andreas Wiseman contributed to this week’s International Insider.

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