Atom Egoyan's "Guest of Honor" premieres in Venice, investigating family secrets

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-04 05:06:44|Editor: mingmei
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Director Atom Egoyan attends a photocall for the film "Guest of Honour" during the 76th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, on Sept. 3, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)

VENICE, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Canadian director Atom Egoyan's "Guest of Honor" premiered in competition here at the 76th Venice Film Festival on Tuesday, bringing on large screen an intimate drama investigating family relations, secrets, and emotional bonds.

The movie focuses on the story of Jim and Veronica, a father and a daughter, whose lives and love bonds are affected by the untold and by past and present secrets, or what they believe as secrets.

Despite a visible affection, in a way they appeared awkwardly estranged towards each other.

The father is not understanding the expressed desire of the daughter to be punished and spend time in jail -- for a charge, abusing of authority as a teacher over a 17-year-old male student, that might not be true -- and the daughter is keeping an intransigent view of her parent's possible past mistakes, without confronting him openly.

Featuring English actor and director David Thewlis as the father, and Canadian actress Laysla De Oliveira as the daughter, the movie gradually untangles this complex net of emotions and pains, clearing the nature of the relationship between the two.

In order to do so, and when necessary to the story, the film shifts between present, quite recent past, and long time past.

"How do we access crucial parts of a personal history, when the people who hold the stories are no longer present?" Egoyan wondered.

"I became obsessed with a father and daughter, who are acting strangely for reasons neither of them can understand... and, as in most of my films, I have tried to find a cinematic way of allowing the viewer to inhabit the particular world my characters are trying to navigate," he explained.

"What I am interested in exploring is what might be called the 'emotional chronology' of Jim and Veronica, a way of measuring their complex feelings."

"While the structure of the film is non-linear, it is actually based on a simple recounting of the scenes as they flow into the characters' minds," he added.

"Guest of Honor" is one of twenty-one films competing for the Golden Lion in the main selection of the 76th Venice Film Festival, which is running here at the Italian lagoon city of Lido on Aug. 28-Sept. 7.