Films You Don’t Want To Miss From The Venice Film Festival 2021

It’s hard to keep up with all the movies being released in this period of post-pandemic renaissance with cinema finally regaining its ‘lost’ time. The 2021 Venice Film Festival has been the test bench for many movies that will enthral us through the months to come, whether in the theatres or on streaming platforms.

Many blockbusters are already hitting the big screen and creating buzz after having debuted in September 2021. Dune (check out our review here), Last Night in Soho, Spencer…all these productions speak for themselves: their majestic casts, cinematography, production and costume designs are a true delight for the eye.

Still, there are many other titles that deserve your attention that you should definitely consider including on your to-watch list.

Some films coming from very different productions and with varied geographical, socio-cultural and even historical backgrounds have common underlying themes that can create rich discussions on similar topics.  

Female Justice-Seekers

What do a Palestinian seventeen-year-old girl in today’s Jerusalem and the wife of a knight in 14th century France have in common?

In Amira and The Last Duel, the two protagonists are victims of two very different kinds of outrage that leave them emotionally or physically harmed and undermine their sense of identity and their reputation in the eyes of the societies they live in.

This vulnerability though, becomes a motivation to take control over their lives in unprecedented ways and seek truth and justice for themselves.  

Troubling Maternities

In L’événement (the winner of the Golden Lion) and Madres Paralelas unexpected maternity makes for an interesting turn-of-events, an inevitable resignation or a dreadful kick in the teeth.   If pregnancy and motherhood in Madres Paralelas signal the start of a personal quest and a coming-of-age journey (paralleled also by a shared search crucial for the historical legacy of Spain), in L’événement they become an impending doom against which the protagonist starts a nervous and suffocating struggle.

Dystopian Childhoods

Children suffering and replicating the brutality of the adult world are the focus of these two films that blink at literatures classics like Lord of the Flies and Oliver Twist.

El Hoyo en la Cerca and Mondocane throw the audience in to two harsh dystopian worlds: respectively, a realistic present-day catholic summer camp in Mexico and a plausible (not-so-distant) future in polluted Southern Italy.

Both films build on the toxic dynamics of the group against the individual. Every child (and adult) hides some weaknesses or emotional needs but this fails to make them feel any empathy for each other. Their life is ruled by the survival of the fittest which prevails on any social interaction.  

The Intimate Struggles of Social Outcasts

When a peculiar hearing impairment hits a sound designer in Out of Sync and a businesswoman suffers a psychological downfall while her daughter is under Covid lockdown in Pu Bu (The Falls), the two characters suddenly see their worlds falling in on them.
  Things they took for granted disappear in a matter of days. They are fired, isolated and considered unreliable and at first, denial seems the only solution.

Only when they and the people around them adapt to the new circumstances and reconnect with their sense of self, does life acquire a new and improved significance.    

On The Edge Of Your Seat

It’s not a shared theme that bonds the next two titles but their capacity for leaving you breathless with suspense and they do it in completely different ways.

The Power of the Dog reveals its well-constructed drama slowly. Nothing is as it seems in the Burbank brothers’ ranch in 1920s Montana and only at the end do you realise you were in a psychological trap throughout, just like the protagonist.

On the Job: The Missing 8 instead is an adrenaline-filled political thriller that sheds light on the systemic corruption in the Philippines and follows the gradual realisation and decisive actions of a journalist.
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