Regina King’s ‘One Night in Miami,’ Pedro Almodovar’s ‘The Human Voice’ Added to Venice Lineup

Regina King’s directorial debut “One Night in Miami” and Pedro Almodovar’s Jean Cocteau adaptation “The Human Voice,” starring Tilda Swinton, have been added to the lineup of the Venice Film Festival’s upcoming 77th edition.

Both additions will screen out-of-competition.

“One Night in Miami,” to which Amazon Studios recently acquired worldwide rights, takes place in 1964 and follows a young Cassius Clay — who later becomes known to the world as Muhammad Ali – after he wins the title of world heavyweight boxing champion.

The first feature directed by King, who last week received an Emmy nomination for her acting role the HBO miniseries “Watchmen,” will also screen at the Toronto Film Festival. King, whose recent acting credits also include Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Seven Seconds” on Netflix, has previously directed episodes of television on shows such as “Scandal” and “This Is Us.” But “One Night in Miami” is her first foray into helming a feature film.

“Regina King’s film could not be more in step with the events of recent months and the importance of fighting against every form of racism that continues to prevail in our society,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in a statement.

“We are delighted that Venice can help to bring to public attention a film that is important for its content and confirms the talent of a great actress in her debut as a director,” he added.

“We are pinching ourselves to have been selected to be a part of the Venice Film Festival – such a prestigious festival,” said King. “Excited to announce another step in this film’s journey.”

It is not clear whether “One Night in Miami” will screen in Venice and Toronto simultaneously, as is the case with another hot film the two festival’s are sharing, Frances McDormand-starrer “Nomadland.” In any event, it is not likely that King and her film’s delegation will be making a trek to the Lido, though not entirely impossible.

Almodovar’s “The Human Voice” is a roughly 30-minute adaptation of Cocteau’s one act play that turns on a woman’s final phone call with her lover of five years, who is scheduled to marry another woman the following day.

It marks the first time Almodovar shoots a film in English. Almodovar’s own El Deseo shingle produced “The Human Voice.” 

The play has long been an influential source for Almodovar, who featured it in 1987’s “The Law of Desire,” where Carmen Maura appeared in a stage production. It also inspired 1988’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” his first Oscar-nominated feature. It was shot and edited “in record-breaking time” by Almodovar right after lockdown.

Swinton is being honored this year by Venice with a Golden Lion for career achievement. She and Almodovar are both expected on the Lido, barring complications.

“I am very excited about coming back to Venice in such a special year, with COVID 19 as involuntary guest. Everything will be different, and I am looking forward to discovering it in person,” Almodovar said in a Venice statement.

“It is an honor to accompany Tilda in a year in which she is receiving a very much deserved award,” he added.

“As a matter of fact, ‘The Human Voice’ is a festival of Tilda, a display of her infinite and assorted registers as an actress. It’s been a spectacle to direct her,” Almodovar said.

Barbera in the statement noted he is very pleased to welcome Almodovar back to Venice, a year after awarding him the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement last year, with his new film starring one of this year’s career Golden Lion winners. “This is an exceptional coincidence, in a year that is out of the ordinary: there could be no better way to celebrate, all together, our wish to go back to the movies in the company of one of the greatest of all contemporary directors,” Barbera said.

The fest is on track with plans to hold a physical event Sept. 2-12, the first major international fest to do so after the coronavirus crisis.

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