Jane Campion, a Cannes legend who remains the only female director to have won the Palme d’Or with “The Piano,” will have her latest drama “The Power of the Dog” world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
A Netflix Original, “The Power of the Dog” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons. The movie’s screenplay was penned by Campion, based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage.
Set in the 1920s, the film is about a pair of wealthy Montana brothers, Phil (Cumberbatch) and George Burbank. Phil is brilliant and cruel, while George is fastidious and gentle. Together, they are joint owners of the biggest ranch in their Montana valley. When George secretly marries local widow Rose (Dunst), an angry Phil wages a relentless war to destroy her by using her son Peter as a pawn. Pic is produced by BBC Films, Campion’s Bright Star banner and See-Saw Films.
The Venice Film Festival declined to comment.
Campion is no stranger to Venice, where she premiered “An Angel at My Table,” which won the fest’s Grand Jury Prize in 1990, three years before her “Piano” Palm.
Variety understands that “The Power of the Dog” had been invited to world premiere out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival but Netflix opted instead to have it unspool at Venice, where the film can compete. As per a rule set by its administration board, the Cannes Film Festival can’t invite films in competition if they don’t have a local theatrical release planned.
Ultimately, Netflix wasn’t willing to have the movie open theatrically in France in order to get a competition slot at Cannes, and an out of competition slot wasn’t deemed a good enough option, either — even if Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux had vowed to welcome Netflix back to the festival with a glamorous gala premiere.
From Venice, Netflix will also bow Paolo Sorrentino’s personal drama “The Hand of God,” another prestige original that marks “The Great Beauty” director’s return to making a film set, and shot, in his native Naples, 20 years after his feature debut “One Man Up” in 2001.
The Lido in recent years has developed a close rapport with the U.S. streaming giant, having launched, among other titles, Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical “Roma,” which won the Golden Lion in 2018 and went on to win 3 Oscars, and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” in 2019, which scooped one Academy Award that year.
While Venice is ideally positioned at the start of the awards season (“Nomadland” premiered in Venice last year and went on to win the best picture Oscar), Cannes is still revered as the world’s biggest film festival and has served as a prestige launchpad for many Oscar-winning films over the years, including Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which received the Palme d’Or in 2019 and made history by becoming the first foreign language film to win a best picture Oscar.
As previously revealed by Variety, Venice will also host the highly anticipated world premiere of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” reboot from Warner Bros.
The 78th edition of Venice is scheduled to run Sept. 1-11 as a full-fledged physical event. Bong Joon-ho will preside over the main jury.