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“Dogman” director Luc Besson may be a newcomer to Venice, but after his film’s warm reception on Thursday, he’s likely to return.
Although the rival Golden Lion Bison has polarized critics miscellaneous Jessica Kiang spared only a few words by calling it a “psychedelic bullshit movie”, and the film’s premiere audience chose to spread the love in its world premiere, showering the film and the filmmakers with six minutes of uninterrupted applause. This led to a six-minute standing ovation from the audience for Michael Mann’s “Ferrari” earlier in the evening of the prestigious festival’s second night.
If Besson offered no closing thoughts, the director seemed visibly moved, smiling under the lights and giving the cast a bear hug. Besson shared a particularly tender moment with co-star Caleb Landry-Jones, with whom he developed and refined the central role over the course of a year before the cameras even rolled.
As Jones stood in front of the adoring audience, with his collar loose and locks of curly hair falling down his face, the “Dogman” director addressed him affectionately, gently caressing the actor’s hair and pulling it back to better accommodate the warm, enthusiastic audience. .
After six minutes of cheering, the filmmakers quietly left the lights, leaving a still boisterous crowd applauding in their stead.
Besson attended the world premiere of “Dogman” along with cast members such as leading man Caleb Landry-Jones, who was able to attend the event after SAG-AFTRA allowed the actors on a temporary agreement amid the ongoing strike. Adam Driver also got a dispensation to attend the world premiere of “Ferrari” earlier in the evening.
“Dogman” follows Douglas (Jones), a “boy wounded by life” who “finds salvation through dogs,” according to the film’s official synopsis. Besson wrote and directed the film, which also stars Jojo T. Gibbs, Christopher Denham, Clemence Schick, Grace Palma, Marissa Berenson, and John Charles Aguilar.
Besson, known for the films “Léon: The Professional” (1994), “The Fifth Element” (1997) and “Lucy” (2014), makes his debut in competition at the Venice Film Festival with “Dogman”. Jones, best known for the movie “Get Out”, had a breakthrough moment at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival when he won Best Actor for his starring role in “Nitram”.
“Dogman” marks Bison’s first film since 2019’s “Anna,” as well as his first since he was officially acquitted of sexual assault charges in France. And in 2018, Besson was accused of rape by Sand Van Roy, who appeared in his 2017 film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. In February 2019, French prosecutors dropped the case against him for lack of evidence. After a second investigation, the judge dropped the case in December 2021, and in June of this year the Court of Cassation, France’s highest court, acquitted him of all charges.
In an exclusive interview with diverse Outside of Venice, Besson was asked if he was concerned that actors would not want to work with him because of his rape trial. He replied, “It’s not my problem. I’ve been trying to focus on my work for the past few years. I consider myself an artist and the most important thing for me is to write good scripts, like Dogman. I want to write better and better stories because I only have a few films left to do.” With their production, in 20 years, the only thing that will remain are movies.
The film is scheduled to be released in France on September 27 by Apollo Films and EuropaCorp.