The Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival that kicks off on Wednesday, will be awarded to one film among 18 contenders from across the globe.

Here are the films in the running:

– ‘Le Sorelle Macaluso’ (The Macaluso Sisters): Italy –
Five sisters in Palermo reminisce, quibble and recount secrets as they reunite at a family funeral in Emma Dante’s film.

– ‘The World to Come’: US –
In Mona Fastwold’s upstate 19th century New York, Abigail (Katherine Waterston) tends a farm with her husband (Casey Affleck) but falls in love with a neighbour.

– ‘Nuevo Orden’ (New Order): Mexico/France –
A dystopian film from Michel Franco depicts social and economic disparity in Mexico, as a well-to-do family seeks to escape the chaos of daily life.

– ‘Amants’ (Lovers): France –
Nicole Garcia’s film tells the story of Lisa and Simon, lovers who paths cross again three years after Simon fled Paris.

– ‘Laila in Haifa’: Israel/France –
Five women’s stories interweave in the course of one night at a Haifa club. As one of the few spaces where Israelis and Palestinians can mingle, director Amos Gitai turns the venue itself into a protagonist.

– ‘Dorogie Tovarischi!’ (Dear Comrades!): Russia –
Based on the true story of a 1962 labour strike in Novocherkassk, USSR, in which 26 protesters were shot by Soviet troops. Andrei Konchalosky’s film retells events kept secret until the 1990s.

– ‘Spy No Tsuma’ (Wife of a Spy): Japan –
Against the backdrop of a looming World War II and the invasion of Manchuria, a wife’s love for her Kobe merchant husband is tested when another woman enters the picture in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film.

– ‘Khorshid’ (Sun Children): Iran –
Ali and his friends work small jobs and hustle to support their families. Majid Majidi’s film explores what happens when Ali learns of an underground treasure.

– ‘Pieces of a Woman’ : Canada/Hungary –
Martha and Sean (Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf) are a Boston couple whose baby dies during a home birth. Director Kornel Mundruczo shows how grieving Martha navigates her relationships with her husband and mother (Ellen Burstyn), while facing the midwife (Molly Parker) in court.

– ‘Miss Marx’: Italy/Belgium –
Susanna Nicchiarelli tells the story of Eleanor, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx, who battled for the rights of workers and women and the abolition of child labour.

– ‘Padrenostro’: Italy –
The life of 10-year-old Valerio is turned upside down when he and his mother witness a terrorist attack against his father. But director Claudio Noce explores how a chance encounter with a rebellious boy changes their lives.

– ‘Notturno’: Italy/France/Germany –
Shot over three years on the borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary follows people trying to cobble together an existence despite the violence around them.

– ‘Sniegu Juz Nigby Nie Bedzie’ (Never Gonna Snow Again): Poland/Germany –
A mysterious masseur from Ukraine, Zhenia becomes a guru for a spiritually barren gated community in this film by Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert.

– ‘The Disciple’: India –
Director Chaitanya Tamhane tells the story of Sharad, chasing his dream of becoming an Indian classical vocalist amid the chaos of life in the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai.

– ‘Und Morgen die Ganze Welt’ (And Tomorrow the Entire World): Germany/France –
In Julia von Heinz’s film, Luisa and her anti-fascist group question how far they’re willing to go to battle hatred after a wave of racist attacks strikes Germany.

– ‘Quo vadis, Aida?’: Bosnia-Herzegovina –
Based on true events in 1995 Bosnia. Aida is a translator in Srebrenica working for United Nations peacekeepers. When the Bosnian Serb army invades, she and thousands of others seek safety in the Dutch UN camp in Jasmila Zbanic’s film.

– ‘Nomadland’: US –
Director Chloe Zhao tells the story of Fern (Frances McDormand), who sets off from her impoverished Nevada town in her van to scratch out a living as a modern-day nomad.

– ‘In Between Dying’: Azerbaijan/US –
Davud is a restless young man on a journey of self-discovery through Hilal Baydarov’s film, keeping ahead of men pursuing him. When his journey ends at home, Davud finds the love he’s seeking — but is it too late?

(AFP)