“Madeleine Collins,” the buzzy psychological drama directed by France’s Antoine Barraud (“Portrait of the Artist”) and toplined by popular Belgian actress Virginie Efira who plays the lesbian nun in Paul Verhoeven’s “Benedetta,” is among ten competition titles set to launch from the Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section.

The Venice section modeled around the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is largely made up of international first works this year.  All entries are world premieres.

Besides “Madeleine” in which Efira (pictured) plays a woman who leads a double life –– and which also features Nadav Lapid, who is also the Israeli director of “Synonyms” and also Jacqueline Bisset –– the three other pics competing in Venice Days that are not first works are: the drama “Private Desert,” by Brazilian director Aly Muritiba (“Rust”) that is centered around a 40-year-old-cop’s Internet love interest who goes missing; “Dusk Stone,” by Argentina’s Ivan Fund (“There Will Come Soft Rains”); and fantasy-tinged “Out of Synch” about a sound designer whose brain begins to process sounds later than visuals, directed by Spain’s Juanjo Giménez whose 2016 “Timecode” won a Cannes Palme d’Or for best short and went on to be nominated for an Academy Award.

The Venice Days opener is “Shen Kong,” a first work from Macau, directed by Chen Guan, set during the pandemic’s outset and involving the emotional displacement of two characters wandering the streets of a city trying to find fun things to do.

Syrian writer/director Ameer Fakher Eldin is competing with “The Stranger” about an embittered medical student who has given up his studies and during the 1967 Six-Day war when Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria intersects with a wounded soldier; Polish director Ola Jankowska is in the running with “Anatomy” about a woman in her 30s who travels to her home country, Poland, to visit her father who has lost his memory and thinks she is 16.

Italian directorial duo Alessandro Cassignoli and Casey Kauffman’s “Californie” is about the trials and tribulations of a young Moroccan girl growing up in Southern Italy; Romanian duo Monica Stan and George Chiper-Lillemark’s “Immaculate” portrays an innocent 18-year-old who winds up in rehab after her boyfriend introduces her to heroin; and Egyptian-American director Dina Amer’s “You Resemble Me,” a drama about two sisters with Arabic roots on the outskirts of Paris. After they are torn apart, the eldest, Hasna, struggles to find her identity, leading to a shocking choice.

The closer will be Italian director Francesco Lettieri’s “Lovely Boy,” about a rising star of Rome’s trap music scene who gets sucked into a spiral of self-destruction.

Shorts by U.S. director Isabel Sandoval who with “Lingua Franca” in 2019 made history as the first trans woman of color to direct and star in a film screening in Venice, and by Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisian director of Oscar-nominated “The Man Who Sold His Skin,” will unspool as part of the Prada-commissioned Miu Miu Women’s Tales, a series of short films directed by women.

This will be the second edition of Venice Days under the artistic direction of Gaia Furrer in a statement noted that “the question of identity is central to all films in the selection,” adding that “each of the twelve auteurs who made the ten films in competition (two are by directorial duos) have reached out to take us on a voyage in search of themselves.” 

As is customary a jury of 27 young film buffs from 27 EU countries will decide the Venice Days prizes, under the guidance this year of Bulgarian directorial duo Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova whose “Women Do Cry” recently made a splash in Cannes.

The 17th edition of Venice Days will run concurrently with the Venice Film Festival from Sept. 1-11.



“Shen Kong,” Chen Guan (Macao) (OPENING FILM)

“The Stranger,” Ameer Father Eldin (Syria, Germany, Palestine)

“Anatomy,” Ola Jankowska (Poland, France)

“Californie,” Alessandro Cassignoli, Casey Kauffman (Italy)

“Deserto Particular,” Ali Muritiba  (Brasil, Portugal)

“Immaculate,” Monica Stan, George Chiper-Lillemark (Romania)

“Madeleine Collins,” Antoine Barraud (France, Belgium, Switzerland)

“Out of Synch,” Juanjo Gimenez (Spain, Lithuania)

“Dusk Stone,” Ivan Fund (Argentina, Chile, Spain)

“You Resemble Me,” Dina Amer (Egypt)


“Lovely Boy,” Francesco Letteri (Italy)


“The Palace,” Federica di Giacomo

“Il Silenzio Grande,” Alessandro Gassman (Italy, Poland)

“Senza Fine,” Elisa Fuksas (Italy)

“The Forgotten Ones,” Michale Boganim (France)

“Three Minutes –– A Lengthening,” Bianca Stigter (The Netherlands)

WOMEN’S TALES PROJECT (shorts), in collaboration with Prada’s Miu Miu Label

“Shangri-La,”Isabel Sandoval (Italy, U.S.)

“I and the Stupid Boy,” Kaouther Ben Hania (Italy, France)