New Days dawn for edgy sidebar

Section may become linchpin of Muller's new vision

ROME — In 1968, angry leftist filmmakers led by Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard gave birth to the Cannes Directors Fortnight. Berlin followed suit two years later with its International Forum of New Cinema. Now — more than three decades after those revolts — the Lido also has an independently operated splinter section: the Venice Days.

Europe’s oldest film fest has taken its time. But the new sidebar, modeled on the Directors Fortnight, actually marks a bold move that could become a linchpin of Marco Muller’s new vision for the Lido.

Italy has always been a land of paradox, so it is not surprising that a section with such a distinctly leftist political pedigree is being added to Venice under Silvio Berlusconi’s tenure as prime minister.

“Days” artistic topper Giorgio Gosetti is a critic and industry operator who previously ran state-backed film promotion agency Italian Cinema. He exited Italian Cinema after Berlusconi’s conservative government turned it into the larger outfit now called Audiovisual Industry Promotion.

Similarly to the Fortnight, which is run by Gallic director’s org SRF, the Venice Days are sponsored by Italian filmmakers association ANAC and by Italo independent producer’s trade body API.

“The basic idea of this non-competitive section is to provide a showcase for films from all over the world, which may otherwise be overlooked,” Gosetti says.

Because the section was announced in May, time constraints have limited the scope to European pics this year.

Though the “Days” are a separate operation, Gosetti says he did talk with Muller and his team about the selection. “We exchanged information. In the case of Italian films, I felt the obligation to say to Marco: ‘these are the ones I’m interested in,’ ” the sidebar’s topper says. Gosetti took three Italo titles.

In line with Muller’s slimmed-down Venice, “Days” is small, with only 12 entries, half as many as the Fortnight or the Forum. The lineup is toplined by Brit helmer Shane Meadows’ revenge drama “Dead Man’s Shoes,” Danish animation fable “Strings” and Slovenian helmer Vinko Moderndorfer’s debut “Suburbs,” which will segue to a Montreal competition slot. Seven of the 12 titles are first works, which Gosetti says he only realized after making his choices.

Gosetti — who during the mid-1990’s served as then-Venice topper Gillo Pontecorvo’s unofficial deputy — is still sharpening the focus of his fledgling addition to the fest.

“A section like this needs to have a common thread,” he says. “Each year that could become either a thematic unity, a stylistic unity or even a geographic one,” he says.

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