Montiel pic among seven first features in Critics' Week

ROME — U.S. helmer/scribe Dito Montiel’s Queens-set memoir “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” will be among seven first features unspooling at the Venice Intl. Film Festival’s 21st Critics Week.

Protag and co-producer Robert Downey Jr. is expected to make the trek to the Lido to tubthump “Guide,” which won the director’s award and the special jury prize at Sundance.

Pic is the only English-language entry competing in the Lido sidebar dedicated to new talent.

Other entries include: “El amarillo” (The Yellow), a night-club set romancer by Argentina’s Sergio Mazza; “Egyetleneim” (My One and Onlies) a comedy about erotic obsession in Budapest by Hungarian helmer Gyula Nemes; and “Le pressentiment” a drama about a Parisian lawyer experiencing an existential crisis, which is the directorial debut of French thesp Jean-Pierre Darroussin.

Rounding out the section are Polish helmer Grzegorz Lewandowski’s “Hyena,” a thriller set in swampy Silesia; Canadian/French helmer Noel Mitrani’s “Sur la trace d’Igor Rizzi,” which is also unspooling in Toronto in September; and Taiwanese helmer Cheng Yu-chieh’s “Yi nian zhi chu” (Do Over) an ensemble drama that recently scored nods at the Taipei fest, including pic.

Otto Preminger’s 1965 thriller “Bunny Lake is Missing” will open Venice Critics Week as a special event in a copy restored by Sony Pictures, a tribute to the centennial of Preminger’s birth.

Sole Italo entry will be the closer, no-budget coming-of-age drama “La Rieducazione” by Davide Alfonsi, Alessandro Fusto and Denis Malagnino, unspooling as a special event. Pic cost about $600 to make.

Section chief Francesco Di Pace said lack of more meaty Italo fare was due to “the crisis of our cinema system,” which suffered draconian funding cuts under the government of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In addition to the Critics Week prize, entries in the sidebar will compete — along with pics in Venice’s official selection — for the E100,000 ($126,000) Lion of the Future award for debut director. The Venice fest will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

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