By Nick Vivarelli | Variety

ROME — Darren Aronofsky’s horror thriller “Mother!” and new films by George Clooney and Guillermo del Toro will world premiere at the 74th Venice Film Festival, along with hotly anticipated titles from directors such as France’s Abdellatif Kechiche and Spain’s Fernando León de Aranoa.

Aronofsky’s “Mother,” which stars Jennifer Lawrence, had not been expected to go the festival route “because Paramount was [initially] afraid of spoilers,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said at a press conference on Thursday. The horror film is scheduled for release in the U.S. on Sept. 15.

As previously reported by Variety, Clooney’s “Suburbicon,” a black comedy starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin, and Oscar Isaac, will launch from the Lido. The film is one of three Paramount titles destined for competition in Venice, along with “Mother!” and festival opener “Downsizing” by Alexander Payne. All three movies will also screen in Toronto.

While the Cannes Film Festival in May did not have any studio pics, the Venice lineup this year looks set to bolster the Lido’s growing reputation as a launching pad for awards-season titles.

In “Suburbicon,” Damon plays the father of a well-to-do suburban family that finds itself caught in a spiral of violence. The actor also stars in “Downsizing,” a social satire in which his character agrees to have himself shrunk down in order to live luxuriously in a government resort. The “Downsizing” cast includes Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Laura Dern, and Jason Sudeikis.

Fox Searchlight will also launch two Golden Lion hopefuls from the Lido, where they are in the main competition: Del Toro’s Cold War-era fantasy “The Shape of Water” and dark thriller “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” directed by Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”), which stars Frances McDormand as a feisty middle-aged mother who challenges a small-town police chief, played by Woody Harrelson, after her daughter is murdered and the killer can’t be found.

Universal International will bow “Victoria & Abdul,” a period piece by director Stephen Frears about the real-life friendship between a young Indian Muslim clerk and Queen Victoria, played by Judi Dench. Frears and Dench also collaborated on Oscar-nominated “Philomena,” which launched from Venice in 2013. “Victoria & Abdul” is playing out of competition.

Another British entry — which will compete — is Andrew Haigh’s Oregon-set “Lean on Pete,” which stars Charlie Plummer (“Granite Flats”) as a teenager who takes a summer job with a washed-up horse trainer, played by Steve Buscemi, and befriends a failing racehorse. New York-based distributor A24 (“Moonlight”) will release “Lean on Pete” in North America.

Amazon Studios will launch competition entry “Human Flow,” Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s take on the global refugee crisis. The movie was filmed in 23 countries over the course of more than a year.

U.S. writer-director Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed,” starring Ethan Hawke, is also competing for a Golden Lion. Hawke plays an ex-military chaplain grieving over the death of his son. He becomes entangled with a member of his church (Amanda Seyfried) whose husband commits suicide, and delves into the church’s suspicious affairs.

After announcing the lineup, Barbera pronounced himself “97% satisfied in the sense that there are only maybe two or three films that we wanted to have for the festival, and we couldn’t because they will go to other festivals.”

As is often the case, many of the English-language entries at Venice will also screen in Toronto and Telluride. But Venice and Telluride are likely to be sharing as many as eight titles this year, which is unprecedented. Most, if not all, of these will screen in Venice first.

Entries from Europe include “Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno” (in competition), Kechiche’s follow-up to “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which won the 2013 Palme d’Or, and de Aranoa’s “Loving Pablo,” in which Javier Bardem plays drug lord Pablo Escobar (out-of-competition).

Italian titles competing are Paolo Virzi’s English-language dramedy “The Leisure Seeker,” starring Mirren and Sutherland as a runaway couple on a cross-country journey, and Andrea Pallaoro’s “Hannah,” starring Charlotte Rampling as a woman struggling with her identity after her husband is imprisoned. Both clearly have international elements, Barbera noted.

Netflix will be in Venice with its first Italian original show, “Suburra,” about mobsters and politicians in present-day Rome. The streaming service will also screen its Errol Morris series “Wormwood,” which is not a world premiere.

As previously announced, Netflix will also bow original film “Our Souls at Night,” starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, who will both receive honorary Golden Lions.

The late singer Michael Jackson will have a dedicated special event featuring a reworked 3D version of the “Thriller” music video shot by John Landis, who has overseen the 3D redux, followed by backstage documentary “Making of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’” by Jerry Kramer. Both are financed by the Jackson estate to celebrate the album’s 35th anniversary.

Landis will preside over the jury of Venice’s new competitive section dedicated to films made for virtual-reality viewing, which will feature 22 entries and is touted as the first competition for VR works at a major fest. They include “La Camera Insabbiata,” co-directed by Laurie Anderson and Huang Hsin-Chien, and “The Deserted” by Taiwan-based auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, a Venice Golden Lion winner for “Vive l’amour” in 1994.

Asia is also represented at Venice in “Angels Wear White” by China’s Vivian Qu (“Trap Street”) and Japanese festival circuit darling Hirokazu Koreada’s (“The Third Muder”) in competition. Famed Japanese actor-director Takeshi Kitano’s “Outrage Coda” is the out-of-competition closer.

The fest will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL — IN COMPETITION

  • “Human Flow,” Ai Weiwei (Germany, U.S.)
  • “Mother!”, Darren Aronofsky (U.S.)
  • “Suburbicon,” George Clooney (U.S.)
  • “The Shape Of Water,” Guillermo Del Toro (U.S.)
  • “L’Insulte,” Ziad Doueiri (France, Lebanon)
  • “La Villa,” Robert Guediguian (France)
  • “Lean on Pete,” Andrew Haigh (U.K.)
  • “Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno,” Abdellatif Kechiche (France)
  • “The Third Murder,” Koreada Hirkazu (Japan)
  • “Jusqu’a La Garde,” Xavier Legrand (France)
  • “Amore e Malavita,” Manetti Bros. (Italy)
  • “Foxtrot,” Samuel Maoz (Israel, Germany, France, Switzerland)
  • “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (U.K.)
  • “Hannah,” Andrea Pallaoro (Italy, Belgium, France)
  • “Downsizing,” Alexander Payne (U.S.)
  • “Angels Wear White,” Vivian Qu (China, France)
  • “Una Famiglia,” Sebastiano Risio (Italy)
  • “First Reformed,” Paul Schrader (U.S.)
  • “Sweet Country,” Warwick Thornton (Australia)
  • “The Leisure Seeker,” Paolo Virzì (Italy)
  • “Ex Libris – The New York Public Library,” Frederick Wiseman (U.S.)

OUT OF COMPETITION

Special Events

  • “Casa D’Altri,” Gianni Amelio (Italy)
  • Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ 3D,” John Landis (U.S)
  • “Making of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’” Jerry Kramer (U.S.)

FICTION

  • “Our Souls at Night,” Ritesh Batra (U.S.)
  • “Il Signor Rotopeter,” Antonietta De Lillo (Italy)
  • “Victoria and Abdul,” Stephen Frears (U.K.)
  • “La Melodie,” Rachid Hami (France)
  • “Outrage Coda,” Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
  • “Loving Pablo,” Fernando Leon De Aranoa (Spain)
  • “Zama,” Lucrecia Martel (Argentina, Brazil)
  • “Wormwood,” Errol Morris (U.S.)
  • “Diva!”, Francesco Patierno (Italy)
  • “La Fidele,” Michael R. Roskam (Belgium, France, Netherlands)
  • “The Private Life of a Modern Woman,” James Toback (U.S.)
  • “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” S. Craig Zahler (U.S.)

NON-FICTION

  • “Cuba and the Cameraman,” Jon Albert (U.S.)
  • “My Generation,” David Batty (U.K)
  • “The Devil and Father Amorth,” William Friedkin (U.S.)
  • “This Is Congo,” Daniel McCabe (Congo)
  • “Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda,” Stephen Nomura Schible (U.S., Japan)
  • “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. The Story of Jim Carrey, Andy Kaufman, and Tony Clifton,” Chris Smith (U.S.)
  • “Happy Winter,” Giovanni Totaro (Italy)

HORIZONS

  • “Disappearance,” Ali Asgari (Iran, Qatar)
  • “Especes Menaces,” Gilles Bourdos (France, Belgium)
  • “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” Nancy Buirski (U.S.)
  • “Caniba,” Lucian Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel (France)
  • “Les Bienheureux,” Sofia Djama (France, Belgium)
  • “Marvin,” Anne Fontaine (France)
  • “Invisibile,” Pablo Giorgelli (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany)
  • “Brutti e Cattivi,” Cosimo Gomez (Italy, France)
  • “The Cousin,” Tzahi Grad (Israel)
  • “Reparer les vivants,” Katell Quillevere (France, Belgium)
  • “The Testament,” Amichai Greenberg (Israel, Austria)
  • “No Date, No Signature,” Vahid Jalilvand (Iran)
  • “Los Versos Del Olvido,” Alireza Khatami (France, Germany, Netherlands, Chile)
  • “Nico, 1988,” Susanna Nicchiarelli (Italy)
  • “Krieg,” Rick Ostermann, Barbara Auer (Germany)
  • “West of Sunshine,” Jason Raftopoulos (Australia)
  • “Gotta Cenerentola,” Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Dario Sansone (Italy)
  • “Under The Tree,” Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson (Iceland, Denmark, Poland, Germany)
  • “La Vita in Comune,” Edoardo Winspeare (Italy)

CINEMA IN THE GARDEN

  • “Manuel,” Dario Albertini (Italy)
  • “Controfigura,” Ra Di Martino (Italy, France, Morocco, Switzerland)
  • “Woodshock,” Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy (U.S.)
  • “Nato A Casal Di Principe,” Bruno Oliviero (Italy, Spain)
  • “Suburra — The Series,” Michele Placido, Andrea Molaioli, Giuseppe Capotondi (Italy)
  • “Tuers,” Francois Truokens, Jean-Francois Hensgens (Belgium, France)

VENICE VIRTUAL REALITY

  • “Melita,” Nicolas Alcala (U.S.)
  • “La Camera Insabbiata,” Laurie Anderson, Huang Sin-Chien (U.S.)
  • “The Last Goodbye,” Gabo Arora (U.S.)
  • “My Name Is Peter Stillman,” Lysander Ashton, Leo Warner (U.K.)
  • “Alice, The Virtual Reality Play,” Mathias Chelebourg (France)
  • “Arden’s Wake Expanded,” Eugene YK Chung (U.S.)
  • “Greenland Melting,” Nonny De La Pena (U.S.)
  • “Bloodless,” Gina Kim (U.S. and South Korea)
  • “Nothing Happens,” Uri Kranot, Michelle Kranot (Denmark, France)
  • “The Dream Collector,” Mi Li (China)
  • “Snatch VR Heist Experience,” Rafael Pavon, Nicolas Alcala (U.S.)
  • “Nefertiti,” Richard Mills, Kim-Leigh Pontin (U.K.)
  • “Proxima,” Mathieu Pradat (France)
  • “In The Pictures,” Qing Shao (China)
  • “Dispatch,” Edward Robles (U.S., U.K.)
  • “The Argos File,” Josema Roig (U.S.)
  • “Gomorra VR – We Own The Streets,” Enrico Roast (Italy)
  • “Draw Me Close, Chapters 1-2,” Jordan Tannahill (Canada, U.K.)
  • “The Deserted,” Tsai Ming-Liang (Taiwan)
  • “I Saw The Future,” Francois Vautier (France)
  • “Separate Silences,” David Wedel (Denmark)
  • “Free Whale,” Zhang Peibin (China)

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