ROME — The Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section, modeled on the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, has unveiled a lineup that emphasizes first-time and female filmmakers, with 10 of the 11 competition titles slated for world premieres.
The accent on “female creativity,” as artistic director Giorgio Gosetti put it, is given by 7 women directors in the 19-title official selection, which is more than one third. Venice Days programmer Sylvain Auzou joked that the selection provides a positive counterpoint to the Cannes fest, which has been criticised in recent years for allegedly favouring male auteurs.
Venice Days includes new short films by acclaimed Japanese director Naomi Kawase, who was recently on the Cannes jury, and American director Crystal Moselle, whose documentary “The Wolfpack” won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2015. These shorts are part of Venice Days’ Women’s Tales Project, sponsored by Miu Miu, the women’s fashion brand owned by Prada.
At the Rome presser Gosetti announced that within Women’s Tales events they will announce winners of a new prize called Doc/it Women Award (DWA) launched by Italy’s documakers association Doc/it dedicated to international documentaries centered around female creativity and entrepreneurship with an Italian element.
The opener, in competition, will be “The War Show,” a video-diary/road movie chronicling the civil war in Syria, co-directed by Syria’s Obaidah Zytoon who starting in 2011 set off on a road trip to capture her conflicted country through a series of personal stories. The other director of “War Show” is Andreas Dalsgaard, from Denmark.
Italian competition entries include “Indivisible,” (pictured), directed by Edoardo De Angelis, about teenage conjoined-twin sisters with beautiful voices who come from the suburbs of Naples and support their family as a performing act.
Also from Italy, which features prominently this year, is “Worldly Girl,” by first-timer Marco Danieli, set amid the Italian Jehovah’s Witnesses community.
Launching from Venice Days from Iceland will be “Heartstone,” a coming-of-ager set in a fishing village by first-timer Guomundur Arnar Guomundsson; from Australia there is 1980’s set kidnap thriller “Hounds of Love,” by Ben Young, who is also making his feature film debut.
Croatian first-timer Hana Music is coming with dark and erotic family drama “Quit Staring At My Plate”; Filipino helmer Eduardo Roy Jr. (“Baby Factory,” “Quick Change”) will bring “Pamilya Ordinaryo,” about how a young teen couple hustling for survival on the Manila streets deal with the kidnapping of their one-month-old child.
Rounding out the competition from Colombia is “Guilty Men,” described in the press notes as a “contemporary Western” set against the backdrop of corruption and brutal politics; “Polina” a ballet epic co-directed by prominent French dancer/choreographer Angelin Preljocaj and his wife Valerie Muller; “Sami Blood,” a look at 1930’s racism against the Sami people in the North of Sweden, directed by first-timer Amanda Kernell; and illegal immigrants romancer “The Road To Mandalay,” by Taiwan-based Burmese helmer Midi Z (“Ice Poison,” “City of Jade”).
Multihyphenate Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce (“Gerontophilia,” “Pierrot Lunaire”) will preside over the jury that will award the Venice Days Award worth Euros 20,000 ($22,000) to the top competition title. Competition entries will also vie for the section’s audience award, while all first works are eligible for Venice’s Luigi De Laurentiis nod for best first work across all the Venice fest sections.
The 12th edition of Venice Days will run August 31-September 10.
VENICE DAYS LINEUP
“The War Show,” Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon (Denmark, Finland): opener. In competition.
“Heartstone,” Guomundur Arnar Guomundsson (Iceland, Denmark)
“Hounds of Love,” Ben Young (Australia)
“Indivisible,” Edoardo De Angelis (Italy)
“Quit Staring at My Plate,” Hana Jusic (Croatia, Denmark)
“Pamilya Ordinaryo,” Eduardo Roy, Jr. (Philippines)
“Guilty Men,” Ivan D. Gaona (Colombia)
“Polina,” Valerie Muller, Angelin Preljocaj (France)
“Worldly Girl,” Marco Danieli (Italy)
“Sami Blood,” Amanda Kernell (Sweden, Denmark, Norway)
“The Road to Mandalay,” Midi Z (Myanmar, Taiwan, China, France, Germany)
WOMEN’S TALES PROJECT (shorts), in collaboration with Prada’s Miu Miu Label
“Seed,” Naomi Kawase (Italy, Japan)
“That One Day,” Crystal Moselle (Italy, U.S.)
“Always Shine,” Sophia Takal (U.S.)
“Coffee,” Cristiano Bortone (Italy, Belgium, China)
“Il Profumo Del Tempo Delle Favole,” Mauro Caputo (Italy)
“Rocco,” Thierry Demaiziere, Alban Teurlai (France)
“Vangelo,” Pippo Delbono (Italy, Belgium)
“You Never Had It – An Evening with Bukowski,” Matteo Borgardt (U.S., Mexico, Italy)