Venice's Biennale College Filmlab Selects 15 Semi-Finalist Projects

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The list of 15 will be whittled down to three, which will each receive nearly $200,000 in funding and a guaranteed screening at the 2013 Venice Fest.

ROME – Organizers of the Venice Film Festival’s new production lab on Wednesday announced the initiative’s 15 semi-finalists -- which hail from a dozen different countries -- in the final step before three of them are picked for the festival’s backing.

Along with the Venice Film Market, the Biennale College production lab was one the two innovations put in place by new Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera after he was appointed to the position a year ago.

The initiative received some 433 submissions from 77 countries, each including a new project and a director and producer. The teams behind the 15 projects chosen Wednesday will each participate in a 10-day workshop to take place in Venice next month.

After the workshop, up to three finalists will be chosen. The team behind each of the final projects will paired with established industry professionals, given €150,000 ($197,000) each to help produce the film, and will be guaranteed a spot to screen at the 70th edition of the august Venice festival, which will take place August 28-Sept. 7 next year.

The U.S., U.K., and Israel were the three countries with more than one film selected in the group of 15, which are all first or second projects for their director.

Among the noteworthy projects chosen are Memphis, to be produced by John Baker and directed by Tim Sutton, whose debut feature, Pavilion, won one of the two jury prizes at the just-completed Turin Film Festival, the U.K.’s Into the Light from producer Alastair Clark and to be directed by Rowland Jobson, whose short film GirlLikeMe screened in Venice’s short film competition in 2009, and A Case of the Dismals, directed and produced by sisters Kim and Mai Spurlock.

The full list of Biennale College semi-finalists:

Abu Naim, from Mich’ael Zupraner (director) and Naama Pyritz (producer), Israel

A Case of the Dismals, from Kim Spurlock (director) and Mai Spurlock (producer), US..

The Death of J.P. Cuenca, from João Paolo Cuenca (director) and Marina Meliande (producer), Brazil

I Dreamt of Empire, from Kasem Kharsa (director) and Moustafa Zakaria (producer), Egypt

Into the Light, from Rowland Jobson (director) and Alastair Clark (producer), U.K.

Memphis, from Tim Sutton (director) and John Baker (producer), U.S.          

Nervous Translation, from Shireen Martinez Seno (director) and Jonathan Dalog Torres (producer), Philippines

The Prefect, from Daniel P.K. Smyth (director) and Marcie Dawn MacLellan (producer), U.K.

Room 0, from Jenna Cato Bass (director) and David Horler (producer), South Africa

Slim Land, from Yves Montand Niyongabo (director) and Lee Isac Chung (producer), Rwanda

Sorrow Demons, Joy Blizzards, from Tomer Bahat (director) and Rotem Faram (producer), Israel

The Substance, from Lluis Galter Sanchez (director) and Sergi Moreno Castillo (producer), Spain

Tramontane, from Vatche Boulghourjian (director) and Caroline Oliveira (producer), Lebanon

Two Sad People Wanna Make a Happy Film, from Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit (director) and Aditya Assarat (producer), Thailand

Yuri Esposito , from Alessio Fava (director) and Massimiliano Chicco (producer), Italy