The US actors Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard came to the last big premiere of the Venice Film Festival. Her film “Memory” is one of 23 entries competing for the Golden Lion. This will be awarded on Saturday evening, with the closing gala starting at 7 p.m.

“Memory,” directed by Michel Franco, is a drama about love and memory. Chastain and Sarsgaard play two people who struggle with their past and find each other in their own way. The film received a lot of applause after its premiere on Friday evening.

Chastain as a traumatized social worker

Chastain plays Sylvia, a social worker traumatized by past experiences of abuse. She leads a withdrawn life with her daughter. Everything falls apart when one day she meets Saul (Sarsgaard), who suffers from dementia.

Both of their everyday lives are affected in very different ways. By chance they get to know each other and become closer. At the same time, there are a few obstacles in the way of both of them. “Memory” won over the audience with its original story and strong actors. Chastain said in Venice that she was attracted to the fact that the film didn’t use any clichés.

Sarsgaard described a particularly emotional connection to the film. “This film reached me in a magical way,” he said. “My uncle, with whom I was very close, died of CTE during the pandemic.” This is a rare form of dementia caused by repeated head injuries.

“He was a man who was very important in my life,” Sarsgaard said. “And then I’m asked to play someone who has dementia at 52. My uncle had it at 48.” Being with his uncle also helped him for the role, “because he was so positive and happy, even until his death.”

Franco talks about his own fears

Director Franco said of his motivation for making the film: “I think my biggest fear, or one of my biggest fears, is losing my mind, and I guess that’s what interests me about dementia.”

The jury chaired by US director Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) will decide whether “Memory” is among the film festival’s winners. The American documentary film director and producer Laura Poitras is also part of the jury. She won the Golden Lion last year for her film “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” about photographer Nan Goldin. Poitras was only the seventh woman to achieve this since 1949.