Big name directors at their best feature alongside daring visionaries from the farther realms of art cinema – but to whom will Bong Joon-ho’s jury award the Golden Lion?

Critics are allegedly very hard to please. There’s a joke told in the 19th-century drama Lost Illusions, which premiered in Venice this week. Two critics are in a boat when they see Jesus walking on the water. One says to the other: “Look at that – he can’t even swim.”

Yet this year on the Lido, the critics were dizzy with delight at a formidably good festival. Last year, the Mostra happened during the gap between European lockdowns, leaving viewers gratefully receptive to a superb selection – but this year’s crop, miraculously, has outdone it. The competition jury – headed by Korean maestro Bong Joon-ho and including Chloé Zhao, director of 2020’s Golden Lion winner Nomadland – will have a tough time picking the plums from this year’s cornucopia.

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