The Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section has unveiled its lineup of 10 competition entries, nine of which are world premieres.
The lineup also includes a mix of buzz titles from known and emerging talent, characterized this year by an accent on Eastern Europe, as well as the section’s customary strong representation of female directors.
Hotly anticipated queer comedy fantasy “Saint-Narcisse” by Canadian artist-turned-filmmaker Bruce LaBruce and queer romance drama “My Tender Matador,” directed by Chile’s Rodrigo Sepúlveda Urzúa — and set during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship — are among the standouts, as are shorts by French-Senegalese director Mati Diop (“Atlantics”) and Poland’s Malgorzata Szumowska (“Body”), which will unspool as part of the Prada-commissioned Miu Miu Women’s Tales, a series of short films directed by women.
The opener will be French/Algerian director Kamir Aïnouz’s promising feature debut “Honey Cigar,” which was developed with the support of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. The Paris-set pic is described in promotional materials as a female empowerment drama about a young woman named Selma, 17, from a bourgeois and secular Berber family who becomes conscious of and overcomes the impact of a patriarchic mindset on her intimacy.
U.S. director Merawi Gerima’s first feature “Residue,” a drama about issues of identity and gentrification that recently scooped prizes at Slamdance; social drama “The Stonebreaker” by Italian twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio (“Seven Acts of Mercy”) toplining Salvatore Esposito who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah”; romantic drama “Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time,” by Hungarian director Lili Horvath, whose “The Wednesday Child” went to Karlovy Vary; and Serbian director Ivan Ikic’s “Oasis” about a love triangle in an institution for mentally disabled people, are among other entries by known auteurs. Ikic’s first feature “Barbarians” went to Karlovy Vary.
This will be the first edition of Venice Days under the official artistic direction of longtime chief programmer Gaia Furrer who worked closely with Venice Days General Delegate Giorgio Gosetti, who launched the section in 2004. In her presentation, Furrer pointed out that half the section is made up by films from first-timers. Referring to the fact that Venice will be the first major film festival with plans for a physical edition after the coronavirus crisis, the Venice Days presentation was titled “The Days of Courage.”
As previously announced, Israeli writer/director Nadav Lapid, whose “Synonyms” won the 2019 Berlin fest’s Golden Bear, will preside over the Venice Days jury.
The closer will be “Saint-Narcisse,” which is set in 1972 Canada, and follows Dominic, a handsome narcissistic young man who discovers the existence of his twin brother, living in a remote monastery lead by a depraved priest. The pic is considered LaBruce’s most ambitious work to date. His “Gerontophilia” played at Venice in 2013.
The 16th edition of Venice Days will run concurrently with the Venice Film Festival from Sept. 2-12.
VENICE DAYS LINEUP
“Honey Cigar,” Kamir Aïnouz (France. Algeria) (OPENING FILM)
“The Stonebreaker,” Gianluca and Massimiliano Serio (Italy, France, Belgium)
“Mama,” Li Dongmei (China)
“Residue,” Merawi Gerima (U.S.)
“Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time” Lili Horvat (Hungary)
“Oasis,” Ivan Ilkic (Serbia, The Netherlands, France, Bosnia-Erzegovina)
“My Tender Matador,” Rodrigo Sepulveda (Chile, Argentina, Mexico)
“Conference,” Ivan I. Tverdovskij (Russia, Estonia, Italy, U.K.)
“The Whaler Boy,” Philipp Yuryev (Russia, Poland, Berlgium)
“200 Meters,” Ameen Nayfeh (Palestine, Italy)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“Saint-Narcisse,” Bruce LaBruce (Canada)
WOMEN’S TALES PROJECT (shorts), in collaboration with Prada’s Miu Miu Label
“Nightwalk,” Malgorzata Skumowksa (Italy, Poland)
“In My Room,” Mati Diop (Italy, France)