The 23rd edition of Critics' Week, at the 65th edition of the Venice Film Festival, will include seven world premieres in competition.

The programme, unveiled today by the Italian FIlm Critic's Union, spans the globe from Turkey, Bosnia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, France, Italy and China. All are first films.

Highlights include the debut feature directed by Gianni Di Gregorio, who co-wrote Cannes hit Gomorrah. Di Gregorio's Pranzo di Ferragosto (literal translation: Mid-August Lunch) was produced by Matteo Garrone's production company Archimede. Shot concurrently with Gomorrah, Pranzo is a comic look at a middle-aged only child who takes care of his mother and is recruited to look after another elderly woman.

In competition from France are Barmak Akram's Kabuli Kid (a co-production with Afghanistan) and Samuel Collardey's The Apprentice (L'apprenti). The first film is a Kabul-shot look at the absurd living conditions in the area, when a taxi driver has to find the mother of an abandoned child. The Apprentice looks at the social complexities of the French countryside through the eyes of a 15-year-old agriculture student.

Also in competition is Chinese director Zhou Yaowu's Cucumber (Huanggua). The story is about being caught between China's past and future. Yaowu has studied with Jia Zhangke. Malaysian director Yeo Joohan's $e11.Ou7!-Sell Out! is a satiric comedy musical about the evils of globalization.

Turkey brings Two Lines (Iki Cizgi) by Selim Evci, a film that underscores cultural divisions between old and new traditions through the jealousies of a young couple.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is in competition with Night Guards (Cuvari Noci) by Namik Kabil set in a furniture shop in contemporary Serbia.

Venice Critics' Week will open with Norwegian feature Cold Lunch (Lonsj) by Eva Sorhaug (out of competition) and close with the world premiere of Pippo Mezzapesa's Italian feature Pinuccio Lovero - dream of a mid summer's death (Pinuccio Lovero - sogno di una morte di mezza estate), also out of competition.

The films are judged by a jury of three international critics (yet to be named) for a $4,766 (Euros 3,000) prize that will be given to the winning film's director.

All the first films, even those out of competition, will be eligible for the Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the Future prize, which carries a prize of $100,000 provided by Aurelio De Laurentiis' Rome-based Filmauro as well as $63,500 (Euros 40,000) in Kodak film.

The section will also pay homage to Venetian film editor and writer Kim Arcalli in a special event on Aug 29.

The Venice Film Festival runs Aug 27-Sept 6.

Venice Critics Week Competition
The Apprentice (L'apprenti) - Samuel Collardey - France
Night Guards (Cuvari Noci) - Namik Kabil - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Cucumber (Huanggua) - Zhou Yaowu - China
Two Lines (Iki Cizgi) - Selim Evci - Turkey
Kabuli Kid - Barmak Akram - France/Afghanistan
Pranzo di Ferragosto - Gianni Di Gregorio - Italy
$e11.Ou7!- Sell Out! - Yeo Joonhan - Malaysia

Opening Film
Cold Lunch (Lonsj) Eva Sorhaug - Norway

Closing Film
Pinuccio Lovero - Sogno di una morte di mezza estate - Pippo Mezzapesa - Italy