The 33rd edition of Venice’s Critics’ Week sidebar includes seven films in competition, plus one opening and one closing feature. Screen previews the selected titles.
Adam & Evelyn (Ger) - dir. Andreas Goldstein
The directorial debut of German filmmaker Goldstein is based on the novel by Ingo Schulze, which has been translated into more than 10 languages. Set in East Germany in 1989, the film stars Anne Kanis and Florian Teichtmeister as the titular couple struggling to save their relationship as the Berlin Wall falls. Producer Heino Deckert of Ma.ja.de Fiction also has Victor Kossakovsky’s Aquarela playing out of competition.
Contact: Pluto Film Distribution Network
Blonde Animals (Fr) - dirs. Alexia Walther, Maxime Matray
Described as a surreal comedy, Blonde Animals (Bêtes Blondes) stars Thomas Scimeca as a former sitcom star with a drinking problem. It is the feature debut of France’s Matray and Switzerland’s Walther, who have directed four shorts including Locarno premieres Twist (2007) and Les Ambassadeurs (2012). Emmanuel Chaumet produces for Ecce Films, which also handles world sales.
Contact: Ecce Films
Dachra (Tun) - dir. Abdelhamid Bouchnak
A 2008 graduate of Tunisia’s Ecole Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel et du Cinéma, writer/director Bouchnak has since produced and directed videos, web series and short films. His feature debut Dachra, which closes Critics’ Week out of competition, sees a young journalism student attempt to solve a 25-year-old murder case, which is connected to the ominous village of Dachra. As well as penning the screenplay, Bouchnak also serves as editor and producer, along with Omar Ben Ali at SVP Tunisia
Contact: Celluloid Dreams
M (Fin) - dir. Anna Eriksson
Finnish artist, musician and filmmaker Eriksson’s debut feature is one of the most experimental selections in Critics’ Week. Section head Giona Nazzaro hailed it as a work that “pushes the boundaries of cinema forward”. According to Eriksson, her film explores the relationship between sexuality and death, including the character of M, who is inspired by Marilyn Monroe. The director also stars, narrates, edits and composes the music. Independently financed with support from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), the production shot over a four-year period in Portugal, Mexico and Finland.
Contact: Kati Nuora, Creative Export Innovations
The Roundup (Sudan-S Afr-Qat-Ger) - dir. Hajooj Kuka
The fiction feature debut of Kuka, whose 2014 documentary Beasts Of The Antonov premiered at that year’s Toronto International Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice documentary award, The Roundup (Akasha) was the recipient of a 2016 grant from Doha Film Institute. It tells of a Sudanese fighter who goes AWOL from his unit, and attempts to reunite with his love. Producer Steven Markovitz of South Africa-based Big World Cinema most recently produced Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki, which played in Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Contact: Steven Markovitz, Big World Cinema
Still Recording (Syr-Leb-Qat-Fr-Ger) - dirs. Saeed Al Batal, Ghiath Ayoub
Recipient of a Doha Film Institute grant in 2016, this documentary follows the daily lives of two Syrian art students who leave the capital Damascus to launch an art project in Douma, a suburb under rebel control. Edited from more than 500 hours of footage shot over four years, the film takes in the transformation of the city through liberation, war, siege and hunger. The film was produced by Syria’s non-profit company Bidayyat For Audiovisual Arts.
Contact: Bidayyat For Audiovisual Arts
Tumbbad (India-Swe) - dirs. Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad
While plot details for this year’s Critics’ Week opener are under wraps, Tumbbad is described as a visionary mix of horror, fantasy and drama. The Hindi-language film, which screens out of competition, is directed by Indian duo Barve and Prasad; the latter’s Ship Of Theseus travelled the festival circuit in 2012. It is a co-production between India’s Colour Yellow Productions and Little Town Films, and Sweden’s Film i Vast and Filmgate Films.
Contact: Eros International
We’ll Be Young And Beautiful (It) - dir. Letizia Lamartire
Flying the flag for Italy in Critics’ Week, this feature debut by young Puglian director, musician and composer Lamartire revolves around a briefly famous Italian pop singer (Barbora Bobulova) now reduced to playing a series of provincial cabaret venues with her guitarist son. Created in 2016 by talent agent Daniele Orazi, associate producer DO Consulting & Production has a solid track-record in Venice: all four titles it has backed to date have emerged in one section or another of the festival.
Contact: Rai Com
You Have The Night (Mont-Serb-Qat) - dir. Ivan Salatic
Three years after his 2015 short Dvorista was nominated for the Venice Horizons Award, Serbian filmmaker Salatic returns with his feature debut. Produced by Montenegro’s Meander Film and Serbia’s Non-Aligned Films, and a 2018 recipient of funding from Film Center Serbia, You Have The Night (Ti Imas Noc) tells of one fateful night in a decaying coastal town in Montenegro.
Contact: Meander Film
Profiles by Nikki Baughan, Ben Dalton, Charles Gant, Tom Grater, Elaine Guerini, Jeremy Kay, Lee Marshall, Wendy Mitchell, Jonathan Romney, Louise Tutt, Silvia Wong and Orlando Parfitt