James Franco's film about the last days of murdered gay actor Sal Mineo and Madonna's romantic drama inspired by Wallis Simpson will both premiere at the Venice Film Festival and both directors have released official statements.
Franco says of Sal: "Sal Mineo was 37 when he was murdered and was on the cusp of a new upswing in his career. He had started as a child star and when he was 15 acted opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, for which they were both nominated for Oscars. [Editor's note: Dean was nominated for East of Eden, not Rebel.] As a young performer Sal was incredibly successful, as both an actor and a singer, and then in his twenties, for a variety of reasons both in and out of his control, he lost the recognition he had enjoyed at the beginning of his career. He struggled through his twenties and thirties to work, never again achieving the level of success he once enjoyed. He lived the common tragedy of so many creative people who are so passionate about what they do and yet don’t have an outlet for their work. But even to the end Sal was fighting for freedom of expression and for ways to create work that was exciting and new. When he was murdered the tabloid magazines groundlessly hinted that the murder might have involved drugs or a lover, and the memory of Sal has been forever tainted by such conjecture in bad faith. This film is a portrait of a sensitive and kind artist in his last hours."
Madonna says of W.E.: "I was always intrigued by the story of the King who gave up the throne for the woman he loved. Why did he do it and what was so special about Wallis Simpson? I wanted to tell it from a modern day point of view, so I created the story of Wally — a young woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. She knows she has to change her life and begins this journey from darkness to light with Wallis as her spiritual guide. Wally’s obsession with the love story of Wallis and the King is ultimately what saves her. She lives vicariously through this historical romance. Though it seems childish and obsessive, it forces Wally to ask questions, take risks and take charge of her life. To take the road less traveled. And eventually find freedom."
Sal, in which Franco costars with Val Lauren and Jim Parrack, will premiere Saturday. The film doesn't yet have a release date. See photos from Sal here.
W.E., which stars Andrea Riseborough, Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy, and Oscar Isaac, will be shown out of competition Thursday. It is scheduled for theatrical release in the U.S. December 9.
For more information on the festival, visit LaBiennale.org.