Venice fete director Alberto Barbera has had lots to celebrate within the festival’s initial week. There are sturdy receptions for flagship movies like Joker, wedding Story, and Ad Astra, on-going discussion over the deficiency of ladies in competition and drama once the jury president Lucretia Martel had to clarify comments she made about Roman Polanski at the opening presser.
We sat down with Barbera at the festival’s halfway point to discuss potential Oscar candidates (the festival has launched three of the past five Best Picture winners), the jury prospects for Polanski’s movie An Officer And A Spy, a female-directed film he wished was here and his own future at the festival.
Good morning. How are you feeling about the festival so far?
Alberto Barbera: I feel very good so far.
It appears most of the flicks have had smart responses.
Joker is very strong!
It was doubtless a risk for Warner Bros to bring it to a competition.
But the response has been excellent…
I think they made a good choice. The right choice. The film deserves the reception it is getting. It goes beyond the boundaries of the genre.
Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is outstanding and Todd Phillips did a good job.
What are its Academy prospects, do you think?
Even at this early stage, I expect it to be in the running in at least three-four categories, including Best Picture…
They’re very good. Absolutely, it will be in the running.
There are potential points of contention, however. The messaging on mental health, and the issue of copy-cat killings, for example. Do you foresee any issues there?
I don’t think so. The way it deals with those elements is intelligent. It’s not a simplistic view.
Social factors and other external factors combine with the character’s state of mind to make it a complex picture.
That’s a strength of the film. It’s a strong, unexpected and original film.
Even if their are references to The King Of Comedy and Taxi Driver, it’s a very original movie.
I saw Joker then Nate Parker’s film consecutive.
Combined, it has been a dark read for all of us.
Joker is a dark movie. It’s a dark vision of the contemporary world. Nate’s movie is provocative. It’s a polemic.
Other than Joker, which movies could feature at the Oscars?
It’s hard to say.
It’s thus unpredictable and there are protracted thanks to go. Joker for sure. Noah Baumbach’s film wedding Story had a really heat response from the press.
I think it’s his best film so far.
The performances are pretty superb and therefore the script is superb
This could play a role.