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ROME – The Venice Film Festival’s two autonomous sidebars announced their lineups Tuesday, boasting a combined 15 world premieres among 17 films in two eclectic competition lineups, including an emphasis on films from female directors.
The Venice Days sidebar’s ten-film competition program is highlighted by Blondie, a provocative drama from Swedish director Jesper Ganslandt; Belgian director Marc-Henri Wajnberg’s newest project, Kinshasa Kids; Queen of Montreuil from Paris-based Icelandic director Solveig Anspach; and Stories We Tell, the only North American film in the competition and the first-ever English-language Canadian film to screen in the nine-year-old Venice Days event. The film is a multi-generational documentary from Canadian television actress and director Sarah Polley.
Meanwhile, the 27th edition of the Critics’ Week sidebar will open with the film Water, made up of seven shorts about the importance of world’s most common liquid from seven different Israeli or Palestinian directors, and it will close with Kiss of the Damned, a vampire thriller from first-time director Xan Cassavetes.
Other notable Critics’ Week films include La citta ideale (The Perfect City), which tells the story of a man with a compulsive ecological lifestyle, which is the directorial debut from Italian actor Luigi Lo Cascio; A Month in Thailand, an existential coming of age tale from Romanian director Paul Negoescu; and Gabriela Pichler’s Eat Sleep Die, a story about the economic crisis set in Sweden.
Though Critics’ Week includes more in-competition films from female directors, Venice Days — which each year takes on more of the persona of a separate festival that takes place during the storied Venice festival — includes three sidebars within the Venice Days sidebar itself, including one called Women’s Tales, produced in tandem with Miu Miu, the Prada fashion brand. Women’s Tales features five films, including The Powder Room, a drama from Zoe Cassavetes.
Zoe Cassavetes is the younger sister of Xan Cassavetes, whose thriller Kiss of the Damned will close Critcs’ Week, and the sisters are the daughters of three-time Oscar nominated actor-director and cinema pioneer John Cassavetes and two-time Oscar nominated actress Gena Rowlands. Director and screenwriter Nick Cassavetes, who does not have a film in either of the sidebars, is the older brother of Zoe Cassavetes and Xan Cassavetes.
The emphasis on women in the two sidebars is in line with the overall Venice fest, which already announced it would open on August 29 with the thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, from India-born director Mira Nair. Venice also announced Tuesday that actress Kasia Smutniak would be the master of ceremonies at the opening and closing ceremonies.
The other two Venice Days sidebars-within-sidebars focus on special events, made up of five films, and Venice Nights, which features a lineup of seven films that will screen free of charge outdoors beachside headquarters on the Venice Lido.
Venice Days will take place August 30-Sept. 8, while Critics’ Week gets underway a day early and also concludes Sept. 8, the same span as the Venice festival itself, which will announce its lineup on Thursday.
Venice Days in-competition lineup:
Inheritance, Hiam Abbas (France, Israel, Turkey)
Queen of Montreuil, Solveig Anspach (France)
Keep Smiling, Rusudan Chkonia (France, Georgia, Luxembourg)
Blondie, Jesper Ganslandt (Sweden)
The Weight, Jeon Kyu-hwan (South Korea)
Epilogue, Amir Manor (Israel)
Il Gemello, Vincenzo Marra (Italy)
Acciaio, Stefano Mordini (Italy)
Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley (Canada)
Kinshasa Kids, Marc-Henri Wajnberg (Belgium/France)
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