Yesterday’s big news was the announcement of around 70 Galas and Special Presentations set to screen in Toronto. But before Toronto happens (September 5 through 15), Venice happens (August 28 through September 7), and while it happens, two independent sidebars—the Venice International Film Critics’ Week and Venice Days—will present eight and 19 films, respectively. The lineups, with descriptions from the festivals, plus a few additional notes…
The 28th edition opens with Alessandro Rak’s The Art of Happiness, an Italian animated feature screening Out of Competition. Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli notes that it’s “about a Neapolitan cab driver and former musician searching for spirituality as he drives the city’s garbage-strewn streets.”
The closing film will be Moisés Sepúlveda’s Las analfabetas (Illiterate): “Adapted from a theatrical piece played by the same actresses of the film (including the outstanding Paulina García, recently awarded in Berlin for Gloria), it tells the encounter between two women of different age and differently illiterate.”
It’ll also screen Out of Competition, leaving six films to compete. “Venice Critics’ Week films will be judged by votes cast by festgoers rather than a jury,” notes Vivarelli. “All entries will compete alongside titles in the Official Selection for the fest’s Golden Lion of the Future, worth $100,000.”
In Rok Biček’s Razredni sovražnik (Class Enemy), a “new authoritarian teacher subverts the usual routine of a high-school class, triggering tensions and conflicts. When one of the student commits suicide, her classmates accuse the teacher of being responsible for her death.”
Noaz Deshe’s White Shadow “portrays the cruel persecution against the albinos in Africa.” Executive produced by Ryan Gosling.
Anna Odell’s Återträffen (The Reunion): “Divided into two parts, the first one stages a typical reunion of former classmates. This ‘festen’ soon turns into a psychodrama as Anna Odell, playing the main character, accuses the old mates of being responsible for having ruined her teen years by torturing and marginalising her. The second part presents, like in a documentary, the director’s attempt to show the film to her real classmates.”
Matteo Oleotto’s Zoran, il mio nipote scemo (Zoran, My Nephew the Idiot) is “a delicate and smart comedy that, behind the mask of the ‘genre’, depicts existential drifts and crosses boundaries, even territorial one (the film is shot and produced between the north-eastern region of Friuli and Slovenia).” With Giuseppe Battiston.
Sebastián Sepúlveda’s Las niñas Quispe (The Quispe Girls), produced by the Larraín brothers: “Isolated on a dry altiplano, three sisters breed goats and produce cheese, obsessively repeating daily actions while remaining impenetrable to the echoes of a far yet real world.” Critics’ Week promises that this one “will certainly be one of the biggest surprise at this year’s festival.”
Moroccan novelist Abdellah Taïa makes his directorial debut with L’Armée du salut (Salvation Army), “a touching and refined work recounting the life of the writer-director: from his teen years in Morocco—when he increases the awareness of his homosexuality within a complex domestic and social environment characterised by traditional values—to his escape to Europe thanks to a Swiss scholarship—an event that radically changes his perspectives.”
“L’arbitro, Paolo Zucca’s first film, featuring Stefano Accorsi, will inaugurate the tenth edition of the Venice Days (in Italian, Giornate degli Autori),” reports Cineuropa‘s Camillo de Marco. From the festival: “Atletico Bonacattu, the most god-awful team in Sardinia, is humiliated once again this year by Sant´Andria, coached by Brai, the haughty wheeler-dealer used to hassling the peons of Atletico since he rules the roost. But the homecoming of the young emigrant Matzutzi, recruited to play for Atletico Bonaccattu, upsets the apple cart for the season.”
The closing film will be Javier Ruiz Caldera’s Tres bodas de más (Three Many Weddings). “What could be worse than being invited to your ex-boyfriend´s wedding?” This’ll be a “comedy about love and the light-hearted pursuit of happiness to a musical beat.”
And there are three more “special events.” Benny and Joshua Safdie‘s Lenny Cooke, presented in collaboration with the Tribeca Film Festival, is about “the most promising talent in college basketball.” The film “examines the quintessential American dream—shattered.” Serena Nono’s Venezia salva, “freely adapted from the play by Simone Weil, is the story of Spain’s failed attempt to sack of Venice in 1618.” And J. Jackie Baier’s Julia is an “all too human story of passion, abasement, self-discovery and rage directed at the whole world. What exactly makes a boy leave home and his country, Lithuania, to wind up dressed in women´s clothes on the streets of Berlin, selling his own body for money?”
“Women’s Tales presents the World Premieres of the fifth and sixth films in Miu Miu’s series of short films directed by leading international filmmakers.” The two new additions to the program are Ava DuVernay’s The Door, “a celebration of the transformative power of the bonds between women, but also a symbolic tale that describes life changes,” and Hiam Abbass‘s Le Donne della Vucciria, shot just last month.
The 12 films in the Official Selection:
Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem. “Sanfur is the younger brother of Ibrahim, a highly wanted Palestinian militant. Razi, determined to capture or assassinate Ibrahim, recruited Sanfur when he was just 15.” Eventually, the Israeli Secret Service orders Razi to sacrifice Sanfur.
Bruce LaBruce’s Gerontophilia. Lake, 18, “really loves is being around old people, to whom he feels strangely drawn, and who arouse all his tenderness.” He falls for Mr. Peabody, 82. “What should outrage audiences turns into the most poignant of sexual bonds.”
Cherien Dabis’s May in the Summer. “From the director of Amreeka, a Mediterranean tragicomedy in which she also stars, alongside Palestinian film icon Hiam Abbass. Interrupting her successful career in Manhattan, May returns to Amman to arrange her wedding, and lands smack in the middle of a dysfunctional family crisis.”
Jean Denizot’s La belle vie, “based on a true story that shocked France. As the film starts, Yves has been living on the run from the police for ten years, holding his two (willing) sons hostage. The two didn’t think twice about following their father into hiding from the moment he lost custody, going up against their mother, the legal system, and everyone else looking for them.”
Daniele Gaglianone’s La Mia Classe. “Set in Rome’s multiethnic Pigneto area, it tells the collective story of a class made up of immigrants learning Italian.”
Sean Gullette’s Traitors. “Malika’s double life as a call-center operator by day and the uninhibited leader of a punk-rock band in Tangiers’ ancient casbah by night takes an unexpected turn when the young woman has to find the money to direct a music video that will be her band’s ticket to fame and fortune…. Splendid directing debut by an American actor (a revelation in Pi by his best buddy Darren Aronofsky) and screenwriter, who has lived in Tangier for years, this is a heart-stopping thriller that reveals all the contradictions of Moroccan culture today.”
Deniz Akçay Katıksız’s Koksuz (Nobody’s Home). “After her husband’s death, Nurcan feels her life is over. And after her father’s death, young Feride has to take care of her entire family, including her two younger brothers: İlker, proud and rebellious, and the vulnerable Özge. The only way out, for a young girl with too great a burden on her shoulders, seems to be marriage to Gülağa.” The festival notes that programming this film is a “tribute… to all those fighting for freedom to be themselves in Turkey today, and not who others expect them to be.”
John Krokidas’s Kill Your Darlings, the Beat movie that screened at Sundance and is slated for Toronto. With Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Milko Lazarov’s Alienation. “A middle-aged man crosses the border between Greece and Bulgaria, on the way to collect a child for an illegal adoption…. Starring Christos Stergioglou, known for his impressive turn in Dogtooth.”
Juno Mak’s Rigor Mortis. “Accompanied by the living dead, the undead, ghosts and Dracula disciples, the lead character embarks on a dream journey to the farthest shores of the river of life, in an auteur horror flick that radically rejuvenates the tradition.” Co-produced by Takashi Shimizu.
Richie Mehta’s Siddharth. “Mahendra works on street corners as a chain-wallah (a zipper-fixer), while his wife Suman stays at home with their two young children, twelve-year-old Siddharth and his sister…. [T]he film builds on the emotions of one man’s painful awakening, and shows a different, almost neorealist India.”
Juan Taratugo’s La Reconstruccion. “Emotions seem to have no place in Eduardo’s perfect solitude. A model employee with a secretive, obsessive personality, he has locked the story of his life in one room of his house in Rio Grande, until the day he agrees to help an old friend and his family.”
Meantime, three films have been announced as finalists for the LUX Prize Competition 2013, presented in cooperation with the European Parliament: Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, Felix Van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, and Valeria Golino’s Miele (Honey).