Princess Diana film debuts at Venice as film industry aims for return to normality

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Spencer, the much anticipated film about Diana, Princess of Wales, starring Kristen Stewart, is due to receive its world premiere on Friday at the Venice film festival – one of a string of high-profile debuts that the film industry is hoping will herald a return to some sort of normality after 18 months of pandemic.

Along with the near-simultaneous Toronto film festival, Venice has traditionally marked the end of the summer blockbuster film season and the arrival of films aiming for critical praise and subsequent awards recognition. Spencer is due to be joined at Venice by Dune, the long-gestating adaptation of Frank Herbert’s mammoth sci-fi novel directed by Denis Villeneuve; Ridley Scott’s medieval drama The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer; horror-thriller Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright; and Parallel Mothers, the latest from Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar.

Since the release of its trailer on Thursday, Spencer has quickly emerged as a key contender this autumn, both in box office terms and for awards consideration. Stewart is already being talked up as a contender for the best actress Oscar, while the film’s US distributor Neon is releasing the film in a similar mid-season slot to its successful 2019 Oscar-winner Parasite – despite the disastrous performance of 2013’s Diana, the last high-profile film about the princess.

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