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Venice fest retrospective to spotlight Balkan pics

Traveling offshoot to screen 80 features, 30 shorts

ROME — The annual traveling retrospective of the Venice Intl. Film Festival will focus this year on the Balkan countries, assembling the largest-ever selection of films from the area, plus a number of Western productions, including U.S. features, that were shot in the region.

Organized by Venice parent organization, the Biennale, as part of a push to extend the fest’s activities beyond the window of the 10-day September event, the retrospective will bow March 30-April 16 in Venice before traveling to other key Italian cities.

The season was programmed by critic Sergio Grmek Germani, considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Eastern European cinema. Veteran Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavejev served as artistic consultant.

Textured lineup

Approximately 80 features and 30 short films produced between the 1940s and the 1980s will be included in the lineup, with prints coming from cinematheques in Eastern and Western Europe as well as the United States.

Scheduled guests include Roger Corman, whose 1963 drama, “The Secret Invasion,” set in WWII Yugoslavia, is one of several U.S. productions in the program that were shot in the region in the 1960s and ’70s. Having its Italian premiere as part of the event is “Dracula Rising,” which was produced by Corman.

Both Corman and Makavejev will participate April 1 in a Venice confab on Balkan cinema involving international critics and filmmakers.

To mark the occasion of the retrospective, the Biennale is financing a 60-minute documentary titled “Balcanic Inventory.”

Directed by experimentalists Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, the film combines archive material with recent footage shot by the filmmakers in the former Yugoslavia.

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