With the Venice Film Festival in its 75th edition this year, the Venice Days festival has its own milestone to celebrate, with 2018 marking its 15th year.
An independent festival running parallel to the Biennale arts festival Venice Days is known for its championship of creativity and independent auteurs who don't always fall within the traditional boundaries of cinematic storytelling.
Director Jonas Carpignano will preside over a young jury of 28 young film buffs to award the Lux Film Prize. As usual, this year's lineup brings in a variety of voices from around the world representing 15 nationalities.
And in a first, six out of 12 of the films in the selection are directed by women. The program includes 11 competition films and the closing-night film. While Venice's main lineup was widely criticized last year for including only one female director, it remains to be seen if this year women will merely be delegated to the sidebars. The Venice fest unveils its lineup Wednesday.
Venice Days director Giorgio Gosetti acknowledged real progress by noting that he made sure to welcome female directors into the lineup, rather than to fall back on any "quota" excuses. "The choice was also the result of a search without borders and assumptions," he said. "We looked for the best, within what we could discover and have."
Rithy Panh opens the festival with Graves Without a Name, the director's personal research into the horror machine of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.
Real Love by Claire Burger explores the daily life of a single father who is forced to raise two teenage girls in crisis.
In other highlights, in Elsa Amiel's Pearl, a woman has just 72 hours left competing for the Miss Heaven bodybuilding championship title when an ex shows up with a very big surprise.
Meanwhile, the closing film, Emma Peeters by Nicole Palo, is a compassionate comedy about mental illness.
In this year's Miu Miu Women's Tales series, Dakota Fanning makes her short directorial debut with Hello Apartment, about how a home can become a personal history. And Haifaa Al-Mansour directed The Wedding Singer's Daughter about a 1980s wedding in Saudi Arabia.
Gosetti reminisced about starting Venice Days in 2004 with zero budget, three months to organize and one common goal: "to go well beyond the simple showcase of films in the official selection and offer a bright window to the work of directors."
Gosetti hoped that his selection would offer a new perspective into the ever-changing field of cinema, something he continues to strive to do year after year.
Below is the full Venice Days lineup.
Graves Without a Name by Rithy Panh (Opening Film)
Real Love by Claire Burger
Keep Going by Joachim Lafosse
Domingo by Clara Linhart and Felipe Barbosa
Joy by Sudabeh Mortezai
Jose by Li Cheng
Screwdriver by Bassam Jarbawi
Pearl by Elsa Amiel
Ricordi? by Valerio Mieli
Three Adventures of Brooke by Yuan Qing
Ville Neuve by Felix Dufour-Laperriere
Out of Competition:
Emma Peeters by Nicole Palo
As We Were Tuna by Francesco Zizola
Dead Women Walking by Hagar Ben-Asher
Goodbye Marilyn by Maria Di Razza
Happy Lamento by Alexander Kluge
My Own Good by Pippo Mezzapesa
The Ghost of Peter Sellers by Peter Medak
Why Are We Creative? by Hermann Vaske