Venice Days has European accent

Festival sidebar heavy on local projects

Complete Venice Film Festival coverage

Venice Days, the five-year-old Venice Film Festival sidebar that focuses on up-and-coming auteurs, has a decidedly European accent this year.

Of the 11 feature films on the Venice Days program, only one is not at least co-produced in Europe. That compares to four non-European projects both last year and in 2006.

Though Venice Days organizers say the event always looks for the best films rather than for projects from a specific geographical area, the trend toward an increasing number of European films this year is hard to miss. But observers differ on the reasons for the trend, ranging from the first post-communism generation of film directors in the East, to a simple swing of the pendulum back toward Europe, or to the threat of a SAG strike in the U.S.

"I think there was a period in which a lot of European filmmakers were trying to make Hollywood style films that were just made in a different language," said Flemish director Patrice Toye, director of the drama "Nowhere Man," Venice Days' opening film this year. "Now I think that style is fading a bit and European filmmakers are returning to the stories that reflect their cinema traditions."

Venice Days' third-year director Fabio Ferzetti, a film critic by trade, said whatever the reasoning, it was clear that more Venice Days-style films were being made in Europe in recent years.

"We aren't under any obligation to pick films that fit any profile aside from the kind of style we focus on," Ferzetti said. "But this year it just turned out that the majority of the really good films we saw were European, from all over Europe, but especially from the East, where there is a certain vibrant quality to the films being made these days."

But Ferzetti also cautioned not to read too much into the propensity of European films in this years' lineup.

"It's true that a lot of European films this time, but next year we could just as easily see more projects from Asia or Latin America," he said.

Venice Days, which got underway Thursday, runs until the end of the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 6.