The lineup for the 30th International Film Critics’ Week, the independent section running parallel to the 72nd Venice International Film Festival from September 2 through 12, features seven first-time directors’ features and three special events. “As is customary,” notes Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli, films in competition “will be judged by votes cast by festgoers rather than a jury” and “will compete alongside titles in the official selection for the fest’s Golden Lion of the Future, worth $100,000.”
With synopses from the festival:
Min Bahadur Bham’s Kalo Pothi (The Black Hen). The so-called civil war that tear apart Nepal for 10 years, from 1996 until 2006, opposing the army to Maoist revolutionaries, serves as the background for Prakash and Kiran, two boys very aware that coming from a different cast divides, but friendship and age unites. A white hen stolen from a wheat field becomes their hope. Breading it, Prakash believes to be able to gather money to at least allow Bijuli, his little sister, to study. But the hen will unexpectedly change hands and they will need wit to make her come back to its original owners.
Martin Butler and Bentley Dean’s Tanna. In a traditional tribal society in the South Pacific, a young girl, Wawa, falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an inter-tribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly bethroded as part of a peace deal. The young lovers runa way, refusing her arranged fate. They must choose between their hearts and the future of the tribe, while the villagers must wrestle with preserving their traditional culture and adapting it to the increasing outside demands for individual freedom.
Esther May Campbell’s Light Years. Mum is in the hospice and 8-year-old Rose wants to visit. But nobody will take her. Ever. Moving like a ghost at dawn, her father disappears from the isolated house. Meanwhile sister Ramona waits for a boy who never comes and brother Ewan, anxious inside and online, communes with apparitions while the real world forgets him. But Rose reckons a family is like a constellation, all connected, even when actually they are light years away from each other.
João Salaviza’s Montanha. A hot summer in Lisbon. David, 14, awaits the imminent death of his grandfather, but refuses to visit him, fearing this terrible loss. His mother, Mónica, spends her nights at the hospital. The void already left by his grandfather forces David to become the man of the house, where he lives with his three-year-old sister, Erica. David does not feel ready to assume this new role, but without realizing it, the more he tries to avoid adulthood the more he gets close to it…
Senem Tuzen’s Ana yurdu (Motherland). Nesrin, an urban upper-middle class woman, goes back to her parents’ old village in Anatolia to finish a novel and live out her dream of being a writer. When her conservative mother turns up uninvited and refuses to leave, Nesrin’s writing stalls and her fantasies of village life turn bitter. The two woman are forced to confront the darker corners of each other’s inner worlds.
Adriano Valerio’s Banat (Il viaggio). Bari, a city caught in the relentless economic crisis. Ivo is an agronomist, but the lack of opportunities pushes him to accept a job in the fertile region of Banat in Romania. Clara has just ended a relationship and is about to lose her job at the Bari harbor. Ivo and Clara meet by chance and seem to immediately understand each other. They spend only one night together before Ivo’s departure, but that is enough to create a bond and wanting to meet again. When Clara visit him in Romania, they fall in love. But is exile their only way to happiness?
Green Zeng‘s The Return. Wen [Chen Tianxiang] is a political detainee who is released after many years of imprisonment. Arrested for being an alleged communist, he returns, an old man, to an uneasy reunion with his children. Wen also wanders through the city to see how his homeland has transformed into a shining metropolis. He is philosophical about his long detainment without trial and is ready to move on. But as the past collides with the present, unforeseen circumstances force his journey to take a tragic turn.
Pre-Opening – Special Event Out of Competition
Liu Shumin’s Jia (The Family). Liu and Deng are a couple both in their 70s who have been married for nearly half a century and lived in a small inland city of China. The family of Liu and Deng is a typical ordinary family of China. The eldest daughter Liquin, divorced with a teenage son, lives with them. The second daughter Xiaomin and youngest son Xujun live in far away cities, married and with their own families. They are also too busy to visit the parents, therefore the old couple decide to travel a long way to visit them. It will be a special journey where they will do everything they can to keep the family tied together despite the distance, being the family their sole purpose in life.
Opening Film – Special Event Out of Competition – Premio Saturnia SIC 30 Special Award
Peter Mullan’s Orphans (1998). Mrs Flynn’s adult offspring—Thomas, Michael, Sheila, and John—gets together at the family house in Glasgow to mourn the death of their mother and prepare for her funeral. As a violent storm hits the city, the four siblings tear each other apart during a long dark night of events and misunderstandings. Hurt, angry, and confused, each member of the family has to come to terms with his own distress, in the course of 24 hours of meteorological and emotional storm.
Closing Film – Special Event Out of Competition
Antonio Capuano’s Bagnoli Jungle. Among the ruins of Ilva, the great factory of progress in the past and today a desolate indictment, Giggino, Antonio and Marco move, live and survive. Three generations that, throughout the three chapters, only occasionally cross paths. Three characters that one at a time encounter street musicians and house painters, nuns and gangsters, half naked or desperate housewives, fat shopkeepers and starving migrants. And also rappers, runaways, normal people at a protest… Without any order or sense. Only those who remain where history erased their paths will find themselves in a steppe, or in a desolate, contaminated and empty jungle.