ROME – The Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section, modeled on Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, has unveiled a promising lineup mixing known auteurs and potential discoveries, with 11 of 12 competition titles slated for world premieres.
New works from China’s Pengfei; Canada’s Oscar-nominated Kim Nguyen (“War Witch”); Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang (“Last Life in the Universe”); U.S.-based Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat (“Women Without Men”); and Italy’s Vincenzo Marra (“La Prima Luce”) are among competition highlights.
Pengfei, who was in Venice Days in 2015 with his first film, “Underground Fragrance,” is returning with followup “The Taste of Rice Flower” (pictured), a mother/daughter drama set in a village in China’s Yunnan province.
Venice Days will also play an active role in a “Focus on China” film industry forum being held during the fest this year.
Kim will world premiere “Eye on Juliet,” a love story seen from the point of view of a drone; Pen-ek’s Venice Days entry is “Samui Song,” in which a Thai opera actress comes into conflict with her rich foreign husband who is devoted to a shady charismatic cult leader; Neshat will compete with “Looking for Umm Kulthum,” centered on Egyptian singer-actress and international icon Umm Kulthum, considered the Arab world’s greatest singer; Marra will bow “L’Equilibrio,” about a young idealistic priest morally torn as he fights the mob in Italy’s Campania region.
Colombian new wave producer/director Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza is in competition with “Candelaria,” set during Cuba’s deepened economic crisis in the 1990s. Italian directorial duo Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini have “The Contagion,” an ensemble drama set amid the wasteland surrounding the city of Rome. And Moroccan director Faouzi Bensaidi (“Death for Sale”) will bring “Volubilis,” a love story set in the director’s hometown of Meknes, in which a shopping mall guard and a maid in an upscale condominium become entangled.
Chloe Sevigny will bow a new short film, “Carmen,” starring Spanish-American comedian Carmen Lynch, which will screen as part of Venice Days’ Women’s Tales Project, sponsored by Miu Miu, the women’s fashion brand owned by Prada. The other Women’s Tales short in Venice Days this year is “(The [End) of History Illusion] by U.S. choreographer-director Celia Rowlson-Hall, who in 2015 was in Venice Days with well-received “Ma.”
Special events include the world premiere of HBO Documentary Film’s “Agnelli,” about late Fiat automaker mogul Gianni Agnelli, by U.S. director Nick Hooker (“Everything Is Copy”). Venice Days artistic director Giorgio Gosetti called it a “Shakespearean portrait of a charismatic and controversial patriarch.”
The 14th edition of Venice Days will run concurrently with the Venice Film Festival from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9.
VENICE DAYS LINEUP
“Candelaria,” Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza (Colombia, Germany, Norway, Argentina)
“The Contagion,” Matteo Botrugno, Daniele Coluccini (Italy)
“Where Shadows Fall,” Valentina Pedicini (Italy)
“L’Equilibrio,” Vincenzo Marra (Italy)
“Eye on Juliet,” Kim Nguyen (Canada)
“Longing,” Savi Gabizon (Israel)
“Life Guidance,” Ruth Mader (Austria)
“Looking For Oum Kulthum,” Shirin Neshat (Germany, Austria, Italy)
“M,” Sara Forestier (France)
“Samui Song,” Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Thailand, Germany, Norway)
“The Taste of Rice Flower,” Pengfei (China)
“Volubilis,” Faouzi Bensaidi (Morocco, France)
WOMEN’S TALES PROJECT (shorts), in collaboration with Prada’s Miu Miu Label
“Carmen,” Chloe Sevigny (Italy, U.S.)
“(The [End) of History Illusion],” Celia Rowlson-Hall (Italy, U.S.)
“Agnelli,” Nick Hooker (U.S.)
“Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story,” James Lester (U.S.)
“La Legge Del Numero Uno,” Alessandro D’Alatri (Italy)
“The Resolute,” Giovanni Donfrancesco (Italy, France)
“Thirst Street,” Nathan Silver (U.S.)
“Il Tentato Suicidio NellAdolescenza,” Ermanno Olmi (Italy)
“I’M (endless like the space),” Anne-Riitta Ciccone (Italy)
“The Millionairs,” Claudio Santamaria (Italy)
“Raccontare Venezia,” Wilma Labate (Italy, France)