Rookies rule Venice Critics’ Week

Nine first works in lineup

The Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week has unveiled a lineup comprising nine first works, eight of which are world preems, with a prevalence of caustic comedies and pics taking the pulse of contempo life in cities including Sarajevo, Kabul, Beijing, Oslo and Istanbul.

There are no English-language titles in the Lido sidebar’s 23rd edition. Organizers have instead opted for fresh fare from more esoteric parts “often overlooked by festivals,” said section topper Francesco Di Pace. He cited Malaysian helmer Yeo Joon Han’s dark musical “Sell Out!,” in the section’s competition, as a prime example.

Bosnia’s Namik Kabil is bringing “Night Watchmen,” a black comedy about postwar Sarajevo; Paris-based Afghani helmer Barmak Akram has “Kabuli Kid,” a Wild Bunch title; China’s Zhou Yaowu is coming with “Huanggua” (Cucumber), about three families struggling in a Darwinian Beijing; Turkish filmmaker Selim Evci will bow “Two Lines,” about a young Istanbul couple whose tired romance takes a twisted turn.

Rounding out the competition are Samuel Collardey’s Gallic docudrama “L’Apprenti” (The Apprentice), about a young farmer learning the ropes in France, and Italy’s “Pranzo di ferragosto,” a bitter laffer on aging and arrested development from Gianni Di Gregorio, produced by “Gomorrah” helmer Matteo Garrone and distributed in Italy by Fandango.

Bookending the Venice critics selection, both out of competition, are Eva Sorhaug’s dark Norwegian dramedy “Cold Lunch,” being sold by Nordisk, and Pippo Mezzapesa’s Italo docudrama “Pinuccio Lovero — Sogno di una morte di mezz’estate” (Pinuccio Lovero — Mid-summer Death Dream), about a man who wants to become a gravedigger in Italy’s deep South.

The Venice Critics’ Week jury is still being decided. Besides that section’s prize, all entries will compete alongside titles in the Official Selection for the fest’s Golden Lion of the Future, worth $100,000.

The Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 27-Sept. 6. The Lido’s official lineup will be announced July 29.

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