Twelve world premieres in selection

“Machan,” a Sri Lanka-set caper from Uberto Pasolini (“The Full Monty,” “Palookaville”), is among 12 world preems set for Venice Days, the Venice Film Festival’s largely Eurocentric sidebar.

Based on a true story about 23 struggling Sri Lankans who created a national handball team as a ploy to get visas to Europe, “Machan” was financed by the U.K.’s Redwave Films, Italy’s RAI Cinema and StudioUrania, Germany’s Babelsberg Film and Sri Lanka’s Shakthi Films. It will be released in Italy by Mikado.

“I fell in love with the story so much that I decided to shoot it myself,” Pasolini said about his long-gestating ensemble pic at the Venice Days press conference in Rome’s Casa del Cinema on Friday.

Pic is the London-based producer’s helming debut.

Other bows include Paul Bettany starrer “Broken Lines,” the feature debut of Brit legit and TV helmer Sallie Aprahamian, a tale of relationships in contempo London; “A Country Teacher,” about an intellectual coming to terms with homophobia in the Czech sticks, by festival darling Bohdan Slama (“The Wild Bees”); “Nowhere Man,” in which a man flees to a faraway isle, by Belgian helmer Patrice Toye, developed by the Sundance Institute; and “Hooked,” a comedy by Romanian tyro Adrian Sitaru, who won Locarno’s short prize last year.

About half the Lido sidebar’s selections are either first or second works.

Entries in this non-competitive splinter section, headed by critic Fabio Ferzetti, are eligible for the Europa Cinemas Award, which provides distribution in the EU-funded Europa Cinemas arthouse circuit.

The Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 27-Sept. 6. Its official selection lineup will be announced on Tuesday.

VENICE DAYS MAIN LINEUP:
“Broken Lines,” Sallie Aprahamian (U.K.)
“A Country Teacher,” Bohdan Slama (CzechRepublic, France)
“A Week Alone,” Celina Murga (Argentina)
“Landscape No. 2,” Vinko Moderndorfer (Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro)
“Machan,” Uberto Pasolini (Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka)
“The Visitor,” Jukka-Pekka Valkeapaa (Finland, U.K., Germany, Estonia)
“Nowhere Man,” Patrice Toye (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg)
“Scratch,” Michal Rosa (Poland)
“Stella,” Sylvie Verheyde (France)
“Hooked,” Adrian Sitaru (Romania, France)
“Un Altro Pianeta,” Stefano Tummolini (Italy)
“Ritratti: Che Saccio,” Camille d’Arcimoles (Italy)
“Ritratti: Il Passato E’ Il Mio Bastone,” Flavia Mastrella and Antonio Rezza (Italy)

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