Sweet 16: Bigger Days ahead

Italy best-represented of 11 countries in Venice sidebar

Sixteen films and documentaries, three more than last year, will screen in the Venice Film Festival's newly expanded Venice Days sidebar, organizers said Monday.

Venice Days — which begins a day after the festival's Aug. 29 opening and runs through its Sept. 8 close — focuses on films from new directors.

"We expanded the lineup be-cause it was the only way with so many great films," said critic Fabio Ferzetti, the director of the event. "We could have easily included twice as many films with no drop in quality."

Italy is the best-represented of the 11 nations in the sidebar, with five productions or co-productions, closely followed by France with four. Spain and Mexico have two each, and the U.S., Russia, Canada, Germany, the U.K., Lebanon and Poland each have one production or co-production in the lineup.

The U.S. entry is "Superheroes," an 83-minute drama from indie filmmaker Ed Radtke. The film revolves around a group of kids who steal video cameras and compile a film made from the pilfered tapes.

"Cargo 200" from Aleksei Balabanov — a film Ferzetti described as "a Russian version of 'Deliverance' " — will screen, along with "Der Freischwimmer" (Headhunter) from Germany's Andreas Kleinert.

Organizers also highlighted French/U.K./Lebanon production "Sous les Bombes" (Under the Bombs), the second film from director Philippe Aractingi, who shot the film during the 2006 siege on Beirut, where he worked as a television reporter.

Canada's "Continental" from Stephane Lafleur and "Andalucia," a French/Spanish co-production from Alain Gomis, also are expected to attract attention.

The Italian selection includes three films and two documentaries: Among them are "Le ragioni dell' Aragosta" (The Lobster's Perspective), Italian political satirist Sabina Guzzanti's examination of the plight of poor fishermen in Sardinia, and Gianni Zanasi's "Non Pensarci" (Don't Think About It), about a rock guitarist.

Films in the sidebar are eligible for Venice's Lion of the Future award, which carries with it a €100,000 ($138,000) prize, as well as the Europa Cinemas Award. Also, debuting this year will be an award from Italian author and editor association SIAE honoring the figure who best represents Italian cinema outside the country.

The full competition lineup for the Venice Film Festival will be announced Thursday.

The complete Venice Days lineup is available at www.hollywoodreporter.com.