Parenthood is a subject that has appeared in the several editions of the Venice Film Festival. We don’t need to go back to its earlier years – coming to mind are Pa- solini’s Mamma Roma (1962) and Pudovkin’s masterpiece Mother (1926), which passed in the Soviet retrospective programme by Francesco Savio in 1963.
More recently, Kim Ki-duk’s disturb- ing two films Pieta and Moebius (2012 and 2013) and the delirious, apocalyptical Mother! by Darren Aronofsky (2017). The 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival sees the theme of parenthood in all its sections.
In the main competition, we’ll find Aronofsky again with The Whale, where an obese man has a tormented relationship with his teenage daughter and with fatherhood itself. The tragic myth of Medea, the child-killing mother, lingers in the air in Saint Omer by Senegalese-French Alice Diop. Its ideal counterpoint is Vahid Jalilvand’s Beyond the Wall, that sees a mother desperately looking for her four-year-old, which she lost during a workers’ protest. Noam Baumbach’s White Noise, Emanuele Crialese’s L’immensità, and Gianluca Matarrese’s and Guillaume Thomas’ Pinned into a Dress seem to materialize the Anna Karenina principle – All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Parenthood hopes for recovery in En los Márgenes by Juan Diego Botto, and the need to cultivate a relationship between older mothers and grown-up daughters shows both in Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter and in Andrea Pallaoro’s Monica.
Also, take notice of Florian Zeller: after his The Father of 2020, starring Anthony Hopkins, he will present The Son. Fyzal Boulifa’s Les damnés ne paurent pas celebrates the tormented, though necessary, relationship between mother and son, the only way to survive the wounds of modernity.