EXCLUSIVE: Parallel Venice section also planning out-of-festival activities to build new audiences for independent cinema.

Venice Days will launch a new €20,000 ($27,000) prize at its 11th edition which is due to unfold on the Venetian Lido Aug 27-Sept 6.

“Venice Days celebrated its 10th birthday in 2013. We’ve always held that our selection is our best calling card but as we enter a second decade we want to renew and refresh what we do,” Venice Days artistic director Giorgio Gosetti told Screen.

Up until now Venice Days, which runs parallel to the Venice Film Festival, has been non-competitive.

Prizes for films in the selection have been meted out independently by the Europa Cinemas Label and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean (FEDORA).

Last year, Israeli espionage drama Bethlehem won the FEDORA best film prize and French Jean Denizot’s child custody battle drama La Belle Vie clinched the Europa Cinemas award.

Gosetti said Venice Days’ decision to launch its own prize was born out of a desire to support independent film-making at a time of economic crisis and transition.

“This is a prize to support the work of independent directors and their producers,” he said.  

The prize will split 50:50 between the filmmaker and the producer.

“Our new prize will be for all films in the selection, whatever their provenance,” commented Gosetti. “It won’t be confined to first, second or third works either… it’s not just for new arrivals but anyone working independently.”

Beyond the new prize, Venice Days will also launch an out-of-festival drive to build and foster new cinema audiences, through special events in theatres and on the Internet.

“Our next edition will be also be dedicated to the idea of educating the public about independent cinema and to improving the availability of these films. We want to create a new audience,” said Gosetti.

Gosetti and his Venice Days team will host a Wine Party at Club Gretchen in Berlin on Tuesday aimed at promoting “the new face of Venice Days”.

Several Venice Days supporters including actors Enrico Lo Verso and Miriam Karlvist and directors Uli Masuth, Valeria Golino, Feo Aladag, Gianni Amelio, J. Jackie Baier, Bruce LaBruce, Fabio Mollo, Jonathan Nossiter, Vivina Qu, Hubert Sauper, Pål Sletaune, Myriam Verreault and Edoardo Winspeare are expected to attend the launch. 

“It’s the first date on a promotional tour which will also take us to Tribeca and Cannes,” said Gosetti. The tour is being sponsored by luxury Tuscan holiday complex the Toscana Resort Castelfalfi.

Venice Days was launched in 2004 as the Lido’s answer to Cannes’ parallel Directors Fortnight. 

Like its French counterpart, the selection is run completely autonomously from the Venice Film Festival although it uses its screens and has its blessing.