107 Mothers (Slovakia-Czech-Ukr)
Dir. Peter Kerekes
Slovakia’s Kerekes has played Berlin and Karlovy Vary, and now makes his Venice debut. His previous documentaries have focused on subjects including military cooks and a popular swimming pool in Kosice, Slovakia. Here, he turns his attention to a documentary-fiction hybrid, inspired by the real-life stories of 107 mothers in the Odessa prison in Ukraine, where Kerekes spent many years getting to know the inmates. The project participated in the 2020 First Cut Lab (for films in their editing phase) run by the When East Meets West forum, with Punkchart Films producing.
Contact: Films Boutique
Dir. Mohamed Diab
Palestinian-Jordanian actress Tara Abboud stars as a West Bank teenager who has grown up believing she was conceived from the smuggled sperm of a political prisoner. Her sense of identity is shattered when the man is revealed to be infertile. It is Egyptian director Diab’s third feature after 2010 breakout 678 and post-revolutionary drama Clash, which opened Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2016. The film was produced by Egypt’s Mohamed Hefzy (Film Clinic), Moez Masoud (Acamedia), Mona Abdelwahab (Agora Audiovisuals) and Sarah Goher as well as Palestine’s Hany Abu-Assad and Amira Diab in co-production with Jordan’s Rula Nasser at The Imaginarium Films and Egypt’s Youssef El Taher at Taher Media Production. Daniel Ziskind is an associate producer.
Contact: Pyramide International
Anatomy Of Time (Thai-Fr-Neth-Sing)
Dir. Jakrawal Nilthamrong
Thailand’s Jakrawal won a Tiger award at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2015 with his debut narrative feature Vanishing Point. He makes his Venice debut with his second film, a drama spanning 50 years of a woman’s life from her carefree 20s in 1960s rural Thailand to present-day Bangkok as the wife of a disgraced army general. The film is backed by Thailand’s Diversion and Mit Out Sound Films, France’s Damned Films, Netherlands’ Sluizer Film and Singapore’s M’GO Films. Jakrawal is a producer of 2018 Horizons prize-winner Manta Ray, directed by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, the DoP on Vanishing Point and Anatomy Of Time.
Dir. Yuri Ancarani
Italian video artist Ancarani is equally at home at film festivals and art events: in 2013 he was at the Venice Art Biennale with a work set inside the human body during a surgical procedure, while in 2016 his feature-length The Challenge played at Locarno. The result of four years spent observing its real-life protagonists, Atlantide is set on the Venetian lagoon island of Sant’Erasmo, where bored youths pimp small boats by kitting them out with huge engines. The film won the 2020 Eurimages Lab Project production award at Karlovy Vary; executive producers include former Vice Media executives Eddy Moretti and Vince Landay of Unbranded Pictures.
The Falls (Tai)
Dir. Chung Mong-Hong
Taiwanese cinematographer/director Chung — whose A Sun made the shortlist for the international feature Oscar earlier this year — makes his Venice debut with a family drama set during the Covid-19 pandemic. Gingle Wang (Detention) and Alyssa Chia (HBO’s The World Between Us) respectively play a high-school girl and her mother suffering from mental illness, whose strained relationship is further put to the test during home confinement. Chung also serves as the film’s DoP and co-writer alongside his A Sun collaborator Chang Yao-Sheng. Toronto regular Chung will also showcase the film in TIFF’s Special Presentations. The Falls is being lined up for a Q4 release in Taiwan through Sony Pictures.
Contact: Cream Film
Full Time (Fr)
Dir. Eric Gravel
Gravel makes his Venice debut with his second feature after 2017 comedy Crash Test Aglaé. Call My Agent!’s Laure Calamy stars as a single mother of two children whose opportunity to land a dream job is jeopardised by national strikes that set off a frantic race against time. Full Time (A Plein Temps in French-speaking markets) started shooting in early 2020 but paused during the pandemic. Raphaëlle Delauche and Nicolas Sanfaute produce for Novoprod, with France 2 Cinema as co-producer; Haut et Court has French distribution rights.
Contact: Be For Films
El Gran Movimiento (Bol-Fr-Qat-Switz-UK)
Dir. Kiro Russo
Russo is no stranger to the prestige festival circuit after his first film, 2018 Bolivian Oscar submission Dark Skull, played at San Sebastian and Locarno. El Gran Movimiento, which received a post-production grant from Doha Film Institute, tells of an ailing miner in La Paz who is sent to a witch doctor. Julio Cesar Ticona leads the cast of mostly non-professional actors. Russo and Pablo Paniagua produce for Bolivia’s Socavon with Alexa Rivero for France’s Altamar Films, in association with Dan Wechsler for Switzerland’s Bord Cadre films (Memoria), Andreas Roald for the UK’s Sovereign Films, Jamal Zeinal Zade (Annette) and Miguel Angel Penaloza.
Contact: Martin Gondre, Best Friend Forever
The Hole In The Fence (Mex-Pol)
Dir. Joaquin del Paso
Mexico’s del Paso premiered his Panamerican Machinery in the Berlinale’s Forum in 2016, winning Mexico’s Ariel award for best original screenplay. This follow-up went through the Berlinale Co-Production Market two years later and received support from Mexico’s Eficine fund, Cinereach, Tribeca Film Institute, Visions Sud Est, Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund and the Polish Film Institute. The coming-of-age-story — which shot in Puebla, Mexico, over summer 2019 — takes place at an elite religious camp for boys. Producers are Mexico’s Carcava Cine with Polish co-producers Amondo Films and RolePlay Agency. Del Paso studied at Lodz Film School in Poland.
Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International
Dir. Masaaki Yuasa
Japanese animation director Yuasa makes his Venice debut with a lavish dance musical based on the real-life story of 14th-century sarugaku noh performer and playwright Inu-Oh. Produced by Asmik Ace and Science Saru, the animated film is also set for Toronto’s Special Presentations. Gkids has acquired North American rights, while Anime Limited has taken the UK, Ireland and France. Yuasa made his feature debut Mind Game in 2004, which swept Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival. More recently, his Lu Over The Wall (2017) won the top Cristal award at Annecy.
Contact: Fortissimo Films
Dir. Bogdan George Apetri
Romania-born, New York-based director/producer Apetri comes to Venice for the first time with Miracle, the second instalment in a planned trilogy set in the filmmaker’s hometown on the Romanian border with Ukraine, which started with 2020’s Unidentified. Miracle comprises two chapters: one following a 19-year-old nun who sneaks out of her monastery; the second a police detective investigating her fate. Apetri made his feature debut in 2010 with Locarno selection Outbound. He also works as a producer in the US, with credits including Ethan Hawke’s Blaze.
Contact: Memento International
Once Upon A Time In Calcutta (India-Fr-Nor)
Dir. Aditya Vikram Sengupta
After winning a Venice Days prize in 2014 with his debut Labour Of Love, Indian director Sengupta returns with his third feature. Inspired by true events, the Bengali-language film follows a bereaved mother as she endeavours to forge a new identity. Sengupta also scripted the feature, which is the only Indian film to premiere this year at Venice — a festival close to the filmmaker’s heart, having previously credited the event with launching his career. DUOFilm produces alongside For Films, Wishberry Films and Catherine Dussart Productions.
Contact: Ingrid Lill Hogtun, Barentsfilm email@example.com
The Other Tom (Mex-US)
Dirs. Rodrigo Pla, Laura Santullo
Uruguayan director and writer team Pla and Santullo tend to present a film on the Lido every six or seven years. After The Zone screened here in 2007 and A Monster With A Thousand Heads played Horizons in 2015, the pair arrive with a joint directing effort about the mother of a child with ADHD who fears her son’s medication will do him no good. The project was selected for the Latin American-focused works-in-progress Cinema en Construction event in 2020. It also received backing from Eficine and Mexico’s now-defunct Fidecine fund.
Contact: BHD Films
The Peacock’s Paradise (It-Ger)
Dir. Laura Bispuri
After taking both of her features Daughter Of Mine and Sworn Virgin to the Berlinale, Italian writer/director Bispuri makes her Venice Film Festival debut. The cast includes Dominique Sanda (The Conformist), whose character gathers her large extended family together to celebrate her birthday at their house by the sea. Bispuri’s longtime collaborator Alba Rohrwacher (a former Venice best actress winner for Hungry Hearts) plays her daughter-in-law. Italy’s Vivo Film produces along with Rai Cinema, in association with Colorado Film and in co-production with Germany’s Match Factory Productions. The script is co-written by Bispuri with Silvana Tamma (Pink Elephant).
Contact: The Match Factory
Dir. Laurynas Bareisa
Lithuania’s Bareisa makes his feature debut after directing shorts selected for Venice, Berlin, San Sebastian and Locarno. He has also worked as a cinematographer, with credits including Marija Kavtaradze’s Toronto selection Summer Survivors. The story follows Indre and Paulius, friends who have been out of touch but come together to visit a small town near an airport where Paulius’s brother and Indre’s boyfriend died, to find out what really happened the night of their deaths. Producer Klementina Remeikaite reunites with Bareisa after also working on his short films. Pilgrims participated in Midpoint and Torino FeatureLab.
Contact: Reason8 Films
Dir. Thomas Kruithof
Isabelle Huppert stars as the fearless mayor of a town near Paris, who fights for her citizens alongside her right-hand man (Reda Kateb). But when she is approached to seek higher office, will she forget the promises she made to her local community? The film, which opens this year’s Horizons, is the second feature from writer/director Kruithof, after 2016’s The Eavesdropper (aka Scribe) starring Francois Cluzet. Wild Bunch has French distribution rights for Promises, and Thibault Gast and Matthias Weber produce for 2425 Films.
Contact: Elle Driver
Dir. Oleg Sentsov
The Ukrainian filmmaker makes his Venice debut with his third feature, his second (following Numbers) since he was released from house arrest in 2019. Rhino is a passion project the director had been pitching since 2012. Set in 1990s Ukraine, it is about an average man who becomes a criminal during the country’s transition from the Soviet Union. Sentsov unveiled first footage at the virtual Sofia Meetings in March. Kiev-based Denis Ivanov of distributor/producer Arthouse Traffic produces with Sentsov’s own Cry Cinema, alongside Warsaw-based Apple Film Production and Germany’s Ma.ja.de Filmproduktion.
Contact: Maya Amsellem, WestEnd Films
True Things (UK)
Dir. Harry Wootliff
Wootliff’s first feature Only You premiered at the 2018 BFI London Film Festival and was nominated for outstanding British debut at the Bafta Film Awards in 2020. Adapted from Deborah Kay Davies’ book True Things About Me, Wootliff’s latest drama tells the story of a woman (Ruth Wilson) who is awakened by a sexual encounter with a charismatic stranger (Tom Burke), overwhelming her quiet life. The Bureau’s Tristan Goligher produces with Riff Raff Entertainment’s Ben Jackson and Jude Law, plus Wilson for her Lady Lazarus Productions — with backing from BBC Film and the BFI. Picturehouse Entertainment distributes in the UK.
Contact: The Bureau Sales
Vera Dreams Of The Sea (Kos-Alb-N Mac)
Dir. Kaltrina Krasniqi
Kosovo-based Krasniqi’s debut feature is a drama about the 64-year-old widow of a powerful judge who has to negotiate for her family’s financial security with the men of Kosovo’s underworld. The film was showcased in works-in-progress events at Sarajevo CineLink and Seattle International Film Festival, and also participated in Midpoint. Krasniqi, who studied film producing at UCLA, has directed a number of shorts including the award-winning documentary Sarabande. Shkumbin Istrefi (Three Windows And A Hanging) produces for Isstra Creative Factory.
Contact: Isstra Creative Factory
White Building (Camb-Fr-China-Qat)
Dir. Kavich Neang
Neang’s debut narrative feature — the first from a Cambodian filmmaker in Venice’s official selection — is based on his experiences of being evicted, alongside his neighbours, from his lifelong home in Phnom Penh’s historic White Building apartments in 2017. Neang previously directed 2019 documentary Last Night I Saw You Smiling, which tackled the same subject and picked up awards at Rotterdam, Jeonju and Tokyo Filmex. White Building is produced by Anti-Archive’s Davy Chou and Apsara Films’ Marine Arrighi de Casanova, along with Xstream Pictures’ Jia Zhangke and Kongchak Pictures’ Loy Te.
Contact: Alice Lesort, Les Films du Losange
7 Prisoners (Bra)
Dir. Alexandre Moratto
Brazilian-American filmmaker Moratto scored a festival favourite with his 2018 debut feature Socrates, and won the Film Independent Spirits’ Someone To Watch award in 2019. Reteaming with Socrates actor Christian Malheiros, his follow-up is about a young man who leaves the countryside in search of a job opportunity in Sao Paulo and ends up in a slave-like condition. Rodrigo Santoro (300, Ben‑Hur, TV’s Westworld) is also among the cast. Netflix has worldwide rights for 7 Prisoners, which has Ramin Bahrani and Fernando Meirelles among its producer roster.
The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic (Fin)
Dir. Teemu Nikki
Finland’s Nikki, who screened feature Euthanizer in Toronto and short All Inclusive in Cannes, makes his Venice debut. He promises a visually adventurous story about Jaakko, a wheelchair-bound blind man who wants to make a challenging journey to visit his girlfriend, and who meets five strangers along the way. The project, inspired by one of the director’s friends who lost his sight, won the Eurimages award at Haugesund’s Work in Progress 2020. Jani Pösö produces for Helsiniki-based It’s Alive Films, the prolific company he runs with Nikki.
Contact: Micaela Fusco, Intramovies
Costa Brava Lebanon (Leb-Fr-Den-Swe-Nor-Sp-Qat)
Dir. Mounia Akl
Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki and Palestine’s Saleh Bakri co-star as a couple who escape the pollution of Beirut for the mountains, only to find their idyllic new home under threat from a landfill site. The black comedy is the debut feature of Lebanon’s Akl (a 2016 Screen Arab Star of Tomorrow), co-written with Spain’s Clara Roquet, whose Libertad premiered in Critics’ Week at Cannes earlier this year. The pair met studying directing at Columbia University in New York. Georges Schoucair and Myriam Sassine at Beirut-based Abbout Productions lead produced with a host of European co-producers and the support of US partners Participant and Endeavour Content.
Contact: mk2 Films
The Girl Flew (It-Slovenia)
Dir. Wilma Labate
It is a busy Venice for Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, who figure not only as directors of Competition title America Latina but as screenwriters along with Labate of The Girl Flew (La Ragazza Ha Volato), a tale of a lonely, restless teenager in the Italian border city of Trieste. Moving between fact and fiction in the course of a career lasting more than 40 years, director Labate was last on the Lido in 2018 with documentary Arrivederci Saigon (which played in Sconfini, the predecessor of the Horizons Extra section).
Contact: Gabriele Trama, TraLab
Land Of Dreams (US-Ger)
Dirs. Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari
Iran-born Neshat and Azari have lived in the US for more than 40 years but this is their first feature exploring their adopted home in depth. Set in the near-future, the satirical work stars Sheila Vand as a woman born in Iran who takes a journey to discover what it means to be a free American. Neshat and Azari won a Golden Lion for short film at Venice 1999 with Turbulent, and a Silver Lion at the festival for debut feature Women Without Men in 2009. Their latest — which also stars Matt Dillon and Isabella Rossellini — is produced by New York-based Land of Dreams and Germany’s Bon Voyage Films.
Contact: Beta Cinema
La Macchina Delle Immagini Di Alfredo C. (It)
Dir. Roland Sejko
Film archivist and documentarian Sejko arrived in Italy from his native Albania during the post-communist 1991 exodus, an experience he would later draw on for Anija, which won the David di Donatello best documentary award in 2013. His latest film is, in the director’s words, “a reflection on the responsibility of those who produce moving images and those that watch them”, arising from Sejko’s discovery that Alfredo C, a cameraman who made Italian fascist propaganda films in the 1930s and ’40s, also briefly worked for Albania’s communist regime after the war.
Contact: Istituto Luce Cinecitta
Mama, I’m Home (Rus)
Dir. Vladimir Bitokov
While his feature debut Deep Rivers, which premiered at Karlovy Vary in 2018, told the story of a young man who dutifully returns to his family home in the unforgiving landscape of southern Russia, Bitokov’s follow-up Mama, I’m Home (Mama, Ya Doma) looks at what happens when a person cannot come back. Tonja is a bus driver whose son has gone to fight in Syria; she spirals into a state of denial when she finds out he has been killed. The film is produced by Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergey Melkumov at Non-Stop Production.
Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch
My Night (Fr-Bel)
Dir. Antoinette Boulat
Over a career spanning more than three decades, French casting director Boulat has worked on multiple films for Francois Ozon, as well as the likes of Olivier Assayas, Leos Carax (Pola X) and Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette). In Cannes earlier this year, two features — Mia Hansen-Love’s Bergman Island and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch — featured Boulat’s casting. Her directing debut is produced by France’s Macassar Productions and Sombrero Films in co-production with Wheelhouse Productions and Belgium’s Les Films du Fleuve, and stars Lou Lampros as an 18-year-old woman who strikes up a bond with an untethered stranger (Tom Mercier), who helps her come to terms with the trauma of losing her sister.
Profiles by Charles Gant, Melanie Goodfellow, Elaine Guerini, Jeremy Kay, Lee Marshall, Wendy Mitchell, Mona Tabbara, Silvia Wong