Venice's Biennale College Filmlab Selects 3 Finalists

6:31 AM PST 01/22/2013 by Eric J. Lyman
Matteo Lanfranchi in 'Yuri Esposito'

The film projects -- from the U.S., Thailand and Italy -- will screen at the Venice Film Festival this year.

ROME -- Venice’s Biennale College on Tuesday announced the three finalists for its first edition. The three films, which are scheduled to be completed by late summer, focus on a singer “with the voice of God,” a year of tweets from a young girl, and a man who moves slower than anyone else.

The three finalists were selected from 433 projects from 77 countries submitted last year. That list was culled to 15 in December, and now to three.

The finalists are: Memphis, from U.S.-based director Tim Sutton and producer John BakerThe Year of June from Thailand’s Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and Aditya Assarat; and Yuri Esposito from Italy’s Alessio Fava and Max Chicco.

Memphis will tell the story of a gifted singer, while The Year of June will “adapt” a year of Twitter feeds from a Thai girl named June, and Yuri Esposito will recount the story of a man who moves at a snail’s pace and must suddenly deal with his wife’s pregnancy. 

The three teams will now participate in an intense Feb. 18-March 3 workshop in Venice to further develop the projects. Each film will be given $203,000 (€150,000) and expert production resources to finish the projects in time to screen at the 70th anniversary of the venerable Venice Film Festival, set to take place Aug. 28-Sept. 7.

The 15 semifinalists represented 12 different countries, and the three finalists are from three continents.

Sutton, the director of Memphis, said the quality of the 15 semifinalist projects made a lasting impression on him. “Getting funding to produce the film under the wing of the Biennale is literally a dream come true, [but] the most lasting impression for me so far is the quality and range and diversity of the 15 projects,” he said in an e-mailed comment. “The process woke me up to the fact that there are new waves sprouting up everywhere.”

Sutton is already known to some Italian film lovers: his debut film, Pavilion, an exploration of adolescent friendships, won one of two jury prizes at November’s Turin Film Festival.

Chicco, the producer for Yuri Esposito, said he was thrilled the project was selected as one of the finalists. “We have always believed in this project, but it is still a very emotional moment to know our work has been valued in such an important way,” he said.

Yuri Esposito was among the most developed of the 15 semifinalist projects. The project already has a draft of the script, from scriptwriter Leonardo Stagliano, the actor for the main role, Matteo Lanfranchi, and it even had a short trailer ready for a 10-day workshop for all the semifinalists that concluded last week in Venice.

Along with the Venice Film Market, the Biennale College is one of the two main innovations from Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera, who was appointed to his position in Dec. 2011. 

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