Venice Days Program of the Biennale Announces Lineup, Includes Films from the Safdie Brothers, Ava DuVernay and More

Venice Days Program of the Biennale Announces Lineup, Includes Films from the Safdie Brothers, Ava DuVernay and More

The tenth edition of the Venice Days program at the Venice International Film Festival unfolds from August 28 through September 7. Its lineup, consisting of 12 feature films, two shorts, three special events and two special screenings, focuses heavily but not exclusively on debuts. Included in this year’s just-announced program are John Krokidas’ “Kill Your Darlings,” starring Daniel Radcliffe, Cherien Dabis’ “May in the Summer,” Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Lenny Cooke,” and Ava DuVernay’s short film “The Door.” Full lineup below.

All debut films are in the running for the Lion of the Future Debut Film award at the Venice International Film Festival. Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al Mansour (“Wadjda”), the country’s first woman filmmaker, is heading the jury.

FEATURE FILMS:

ALIENATION by Milko Lazarov – First film

With Christos Stergioglou, Mariana Jikich,

Ovanes Torosyan, Iva Ognyanova

Bulgaria, World Premiere

Production: Bulgarian National Television

A sardonic fairy tale, primordial and contemporary. A
middle-aged man crosses the border between Greece and Bulgaria, on the way to
collect a child for an illegal adoption. Actually, the child is still in its
mother´s womb, and is born shortly thereafter on a stormy night in the mountain
hideout the man has painstakingly arranged. Can anything good come out of this
‘meeting between two solitudes´? Says the director: “For me it´s a
meditation on a lost generation. For four years I put my first film together
with no extra help: the script, the locations, the forest, a 16mm, no score,
very little dialogue, sighs and an old song or two.” Starring Christos
Stergioglou, known for his impressive turn in Dogtooth, winner of Un Certain
Regard in 2009.

LA BELLE VIE by Jean Denizot – First film

With Nicolas Bouchaud, Zacharie Chasseriaud, Jules Pélissier,

Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Maya Sansa, Solène Rigot

France, World Premiere

Production: Mezzanine Films

Written by filmmaker Denizot, on his feature debut, and
Frédérique Moreau, in collaboration with Catherine Paillé, the film is based on
a true story that shocked France. As the film starts, Yves has been living on
the run from the police for ten years, holding his two (willing) sons hostage.
The two didn´t think twice about following their father into hiding from the
moment he lost custody, going up against their mother, the legal system, and
everyone else looking for them. Their father was their world, but now they´re
older and missing out on their dreams and interests, in this endless flight. As
they prepare to move again, the older one, Pierre, seizes the moment and
disappears. Alone with his father on an island in the Loire, Sylvain finds
love, his first love, Gilda…

BETHLEHEM di Yuval Adler – First film

With Shadi Mar’i, Tzachi Halevy, Hitham Omari, Tarek Copti

Israel, World Premiere

World sales: WestEnd Films

Sanfur is the younger brother of Ibrahim, a highly wanted
Palestinian militant. Razi, determined to capture or assassinate Ibrahim,
recruited Sanfur when he was just 15, investing all his energy in the kid and
developing a very intimate almost fatherly relationship with him. Sanfur, who
always lived in his brother’s shadow, thrives on Razi’s attention. Now 17, he
struggles to navigate between Razi’s demands and his loyalty to his brother,
living a double life and lying to both. When the Israeli Secret Service
discovers how deeply involved Sanfur is in his brother’s activities, Razi is
accused of crossing professional lines and is ordered to sacrifice Sanfur in an
upcoming attempt to assassinate Ibrahim. As preparations for the military
strike are underway both Razi and Sanfur will each have to make a choice that
will irreversibly change their lives. Co-written by Israeli director Yuval
Adler, and Ali Waked, an Arab journalist who spent years in the West Bank, this
political thriller provides no answers, but raises any number of questions.

GERONTOPHILIA by Bruce LaBruce

With Walter Borden, Pier-Gabriel Lajoie,

Katie Boland, and Marie-Hélène Thibault

Canada, World Premiere

World sales: MK2

18-year-old Lake has a dissatisfied mother, in need of a new
man, and an unabashedly unconventional girlfriend. He tries being a lifeguard
at a pool and then an aide at an old people´s home. In fact, what he really
loves is being around old people, to whom he feels strangely drawn, and who
arouse all his tenderness. When he meets Mr. Peabody, one of the residents he
cares for, the lives of both change overnight. They might seem the perfect
match: they meet, instantly understand each other and fuel each other´s dreams,
yet one is 18, with his whole life ahead of him, while the other is 82, living
on memories. From the brilliant director Bruce LaBruce, a modern romantic
comedy which pays homage to Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, and One Flew
Over the Cuckoo´s Nest. What should outrage audiences turns into the most
poignant of sexual bonds.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS by John Krokidas – First film

With Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall,

Ben Foster, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason
Leigh

USA, International Premiere

Italian distribution: Notorious Pictures

Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs: iconic names today, and
figureheads of a movement that rewrote all the rules for American literature
and laid the grounds for a sea change in popular culture. Who were they,
though, before their apotheois? Just kids. In 1944, Allen Ginsberg was an
uptight, strait-laced freshman at Columbia University. Jack Kerouac was a
listless college student, back in school after lasting only a week in the navy.
William S. Burroughs had dropped out of medical school and into a drug habit,
and was just eking out a living on the fringes of New York´s bohemien scene.
Unquestionably, Daniel Radcliffe´s real breakout role.

KOKSUZ (NOBODY´S HOME) by Deniz Akçay Katıksız – First film

with Ahu Türkpençe, Lale Başar, Savaş Alp Başar,

Sekvan Serinkaya, Mihriban Er, Melis Ebeler

Turkey, International Premiere

Production: Zoe Film

After her husband´s death, Nurcan feels her life is over.
And after her father´s death, young Feride has to take care of her entire
family, including her two younger brothers: İlker, proud and rebellious, and
the vulnerable Özge. The only way out, for a young girl with too great a burden
on her shoulders, seems to be marriage to Gülağa. “This is the
story,” says the filmmaker, on her feature directorial debut, “of a
group of people who don´t embrace their own real roles in life, but struggle to
live up to the roles that others have mapped out for them.” An example of
a vibrant, cosmopolitan film industry that represents a creative model for
Europe and Mediterranean-bordering Asia, Nobody´s Home is also a tribute, on
our programme, to all those fighting for freedom to be themselves in Turkey
today, and not who others expect them to be.

MAY IN THE SUMMER by Cherien Dabis

With Hiam Abbass, James Garson Chick, Cherien Dabis

USA/Qatar/Jordan, International Premiere

World sales: Elle Driver

From the director of Amreeka, a Mediterranean tragicomedy in
which she also stars, alongside Palestinian film icon Hiam Abbass. Interrupting
her successful career in Manhattan, May returns to Amman to arrange her
wedding, and lands smack in the middle of a dysfunctional family crisis. Her
mother, a born-again Christian, disapproves of her marriage to a Muslim; her
father barely seems to care at all; no one cares about May´s happiness. But
it´s also the story of May´s relationship with her two sisters, also back from
the U.S., the New World where the three sisters all live without ever seeing
each other, now reunited for an event they each somehow dread. Two worlds
collide, and nothing turns out to be as it seems; modernity and tradition face
off in this sentimental comedy.

LA MIA CLASSE by Daniele Gaglianone

With Valerio Mastandrea and the class

Italy, World Premiere

Production: Axelotil Film, Kimerafilm, Relief

with the support of Rai Cinema

This new film marks Daniele Gaglianone´s return to Venice
Days, as well as a shift in direction from his recent works, relaunching as it
does one of his favourite themes, reality film. Set in Rome´s multiethnic
Pigneto area, it tells the collective story of a class made up of immigrants
learning Italian. The ingredients are the individual life stories of the
students and their teacher as well, for a true story in a rather unconventional
classroom setting. Or is it a true story? It is for the classmates, with their
own voices and memories; it´s true at a different level for the actor Valerio
Mastandrea who plays their teacher; and for the director and crew who weave in
and out of the scene, in an interplay between real experiences and the search
for truth in a fictional form, which emerges as the real narrative heart of
this film, more real than reality itself.

LA RECONSTRUCCION by Juan Taratugo

With Diego Peretti, Claudia Fontán, Alfredo Casero,

Maria Casali, and Eugenia Aguilar y Ariel Pérez

Argentina, International Premiere

Production: Concreto Film

Emotions seem to have no place in Eduardo´s perfect
solitude. A model employee with a secretive, obsessive personality, he has
locked the story of his life in one room of his house in Rio Grande, until the
day he agrees to help an old friend and his family. The encounter between a
loner, so alone that he has lost much of the veneer of civilisation, and people
who rely on his help, becomes a rite of passage enabling Eduardo to rediscover
his own humanity, and begin to reconstruct. Against the backdrop of an
undefinable Argentina caught between past and present, itself colourful yet
solitary, this very human ensemble comedy changes along with its lead actor.
The third film by the director of It´s Not You, It´s Me (2004) and a surprise
hit in South America and Spain, it once again stars the director´s alter ego,
Diego Peretti.

RIGOR MORTIS by Juno Mak – First film

With Kara Hui, Siu-hou Chin, Richard Ng

Hong Kong, World Premiere

World sales: Fortissimo Film

In a leaden, deserted Hong Kong, very different from the
visionary modernity of its gleaming towers, a famous actor has a fatal
encounter with his own destiny. Co-produced by the master of the horror genre,
Takashi Shimizu, with an “all-star” cast that reunites some of the
film icons from the classic series Mr. Vampire, Juno Mak´s feature directorial
debut brings a cult comic strip to the big screen with mind-blowing special
effects, and pays tribute to the Asian tradition of vampire movies from the
80s. Accompanied by the living dead, the undead, ghosts and Dracula disciples,
the lead character embarks on a dream journey to the farthest shores of the
river of life, in an auteur horror flick that radically rejuvenates the
tradition. Starring martial arts champion Siu-hou Chin, best known for his
duels with Jet Li.

SIDDHARTH by Richie Mehta

With Rajesh Tailang, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anurag Arora,

Shobha Sharma Jassi, Geeta Agarwal Sharma, Naseeruddin Shah

India/Canada, World Premiere

Production: Poor Man’s Productions Ltd.

Mahendra works on street corners as a chain-wallah (a
zipper-fixer), while his wife Suman stays at home with their two young
children, twelve-year-old Siddharth and his sister. To contribute to the family
budget, the boy is sent far away from home, from New Dehli to Ludhiana, where a
relative has a job for him and a place to sleep. It seems like a dream come
true to his father, until he realises that his son has vanished into thin air:
kidnapped, perhaps, or dead. Mahendra learns how confusing the world beyond his
front door really is, but that doesn´t stop him from stubbornly seeking
Siddharth all over India, its cities and countryside combined. Co-written by
its star and the director (who now lives in Canada), the film builds on the
emotions of one man´s painful awakening, and shows a different, almost
neorealist India, described with that ingredient of universal humanity that is
Italian film´s gift to the world.

TRAITORS di Sean Gullette – First film

With Chaimae Ben Acha, Soufia Issami,

Mourade Zeguindi, Driss Roukhe, Saleh Bensaleh

Morocco/USA, World Premiere

Production: White Light White Heat, Kasbah-Film Tanger

Malika’s double life as a call-centre operator by day and
the uninhibited leader of a punk-rock band in Tangiers’ ancient casbah by night
takes an unexpected turn when the young woman has to find the money to direct a
music video that will be her band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Unfortunately,
Malika looks in all the wrong places and finds herself definitely out of her
depth; she’s going to need to rely on much more than her talent and her
femininity to get herself out of this mess. Splendid directing debut by an
American actor (a revelation in Pi by his best buddy Darren Aronofsky) and
screenwriter, who has lived in Tangier for years, this is a heart-stopping
thriller that reveals all the contradictions of Moroccan culture today.
Features original songs sung by its riveting star Chaimae Ben Acha, and new
music from much-hyped all-female bands Savages and Talk Normal.

SHORT FILMS:

THE DOOR by Ava DuVernay, 2012 – Italy/USA

Production: RSA Films, Hi! Production, Howard Barish, Ava
DuVernay

Executive producers: Jules Daly, Max Brun, Marjio Abrahams,
Maria Gallagher

The first African-American filmmaker to triumph at Sundance
(Best Director 2012), Ava DuVernay brings to the screen “a celebration of
the transformative power of the bonds between women, but also a symbolic tale
that describes life changes”.

LE DONNE DELLA VUCCIRIA by Hiam Abbass, 2013 Italy/France

Production: Hi! Production, NCN

Executive producers: Max Brun, Giorgio Guzzi

Filmed in Palermo in June of this year, this film by Hiam
Abbass (a genuine icon of Palestinian film, a charismatic actress and the
director of Inheritance, 2012) springs from her collaboration with Venice Days,
which put her name forward for The Miu Miu Women´s Tales series.

SPECIAL EVENTS:

JULIA by J. Jackie Baier World Premiere

Germany/Lithuania

World sales: M-Appeal

An all too human story of passion, abasement, self-discovery
and rage directed at the whole world. What exactly makes a boy leave home and
his country, Lithuania, to wind up dressed in women´s clothes on the streets of
Berlin, selling his own body for money? For over ten years photographer and
filmmaker J. Jackie Baier spent her days and nights alongside the transexual
Julia K., filming the life and thought of a self-appointed outlaw and guerrilla
fighter in the war of life. A film that can´t be pigeonholed, the unfiltered
vision of a raw, extreme reality, Julia marks a milestone in reality cinema,
with the camera no longer a simple eye-witness but an accomplice or first-hand
observer of a person whose identity defies all labels.

VENEZIA SALVA by Serena Nono

With David Riondino, Nicola Golea, Domenico Palazzo,

Matteo Parrinello, Roxana Kenjeeva, Vincenza Petrella

Italy, World Premiere

Production: Giano Produzioni

Venezia salva, freely adapted from the play by Simone Weil,
is the story of Spain´s failed attempt to sack of Venice in 1618. A plot is
devised by the Spanish ambassador, the Marquis of Bedmar, and the Neapolitan
viceroy, the Duke of Osuna, to conquer Venice on the night before the festival
of the ‘Sensa´ which reenacts the marriage of Venice to the sea, the aim being
to crush the Serenissima and annex it to the Kingdom of Spain. A faithful yet
abstract depiction of the historical event and a remarkable journey through
largely visual art forms (featuring theatre, history painting, music and images
in motion), this third film by the Venetian director – and her feature
directorial debut – came out of a workshop involving the residents of the Casa
dell´ospitalità di Venezia e Mestre (a shelter for the homeless), the same
residents who play most of the roles in the film.

In collaboration with the Tribeca Film Festival

LENNY COOKE by Benny Safdie, Joshua Safdie

USA, International Premiere

Production: A Shop Korn Prods

In 2001 Lenny Cooke was the most promising talent in college
basketball, even more gifted, many believed, than future American greats such
as LeBron James, Amar´e Stoudemire, or Carmelo Anthony. NBA stardom was within
his reach, yet ten years on, Lenny takes stock: that stardom never
materialised. He´s never played even once for the NBA. What went wrong? Filmed
at Lenny´s home in Brooklyn and the New Jersey suburbs where he first learned
to play, with the participation of friends and relations of the greatest loser
of the new millenium, the new film by the Safdie brothers examines the
quintessential American dream – shattered. Selected by the Tribeca Film
Festival to screen at Venice Days, in a joint artistic collaboration.

Pre-opening event – Special Screening

L´ARBITRO by Paolo Zucca – First film

With Stefano Accorsi, Geppi Cucciari, Jacopo Cullin, Marco
Messeri,

Benito Urgu, Francesco Pannofino, and Alessio Di Clemente

Italy/Argentina World Premiere

Production: Classic, Bd Cine, Rai Cinema

with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the
Autonomous Region of Sardinia

Italian distribution: Lucky Red

World sales: Le Pacte

The rise and fall of a corrupt referee. The timeless clash
between two rival teams at the bottom of the rankings. The bedlam unleashed by
the third tier of the football pyramid. Atletico Bonacattu, the most god-awful
team in Sardinia, is humiliated once again this year by Sant´Andria, coached by
Brai, the haughty wheeler-dealer used to hassling the peons of Atletico since
he rules the roost. But the homecoming of the young emigrant Matzutzi,
recruited to play for Atletico Bonaccattu, upsets the apple cart for the
season. The story of the two teams alternates with that of the spectacular rise
of Cruciani, an ambitious referee who shoots to the highest levels on the
international scene, only to get an unpleasant surprise…For the birthday of
Venice Days, a rising Italian filmmaker´s first film celebrates the event with
an auteur comedy that surreally crystallises all the virtues and vices of our
world.

Closing night film Special screening

TRES BODAS DE MAS by Javier Ruiz Caldera

With Inma Cuesta, Martiño Rivas, María Botto, Rossy de Palma

Spain World Premiere

Production: Antena 3 Films, Apaches Entertainment, Ciskul,
Think Studio

What could be worse than being invited to your
ex-boyfriend´s wedding? It´s a no-brainer: three similar invites all in one
month. And if you can´t say no and have no one to escort you so you won´t look
like a spinster, things are only going to get worse. Throw in a desperate
search for a soulmate between one wedding and the next, and success in your
chosen career, and it´s a recipe for disaster. Everything clicks into place in
this perfect comedy about love and the light-hearted pursuit of happiness to a
musical beat. Venice Days 2013 ends on a light note to pay homage to popular
entertainment and usher the festival out with a lively party atmosphere.

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Comments

Pristine

A jury headed by Haifaa, with movies from Cherien and Ava is film chick heaven!

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