Marco Mueller, artistic director of the Venice international film festival, has been carving a personal stamp that becomes more defined each year.
For his fourth line-up, Mueller has constructed a competition with a strong bedrock of English-language pictures from directors including Paul Haggis, Wes Anderson, Brian De Palma, Andrew Dominik, Tony Gilroy and Todd Haynes. They will compete against international names such as Eric Rohmer, Youssef Chahine and Jiang Wen.
"This edition proves that innovative film-making does not necessarily coincide with low-budget experimental films," Mueller says. "That's why we have so many US films in the official selection, because we very extensively checked on the vitality of the new cinema inside the various contexts of English-speaking cinema, American cinema and American-financed cinema."
While a newly created Masters section will present new films from the likes of Woody Allen and Claude Chabrol, Mueller has book-ended Venice with two young directors. Atonement, the second film from UK director Joe Wright, opens the festival's 64th edition, while Blood Brothers, the first film from China's Alexi Tan, will close the event.
There have been 51 Oscar nominations for films launched at Venice over the past three years and this undoubtedly has an appeal: "It's only natural that US films slated for a fall or winter domestic release go to Venice," Mueller says, pointing out that Ang Lee opted to screen Brokeback Mountain in competition in 2005. The film won the Golden Lion and Ang went on to win the best director prize at the Oscars the following year. The director is back in competition this year with the Mandarin-language Lust, Caution. "It proves there is an ongoing element of excitement in what we do and how we present the movies," says Mueller.
He also suggests studio attitudes to a Venice competition spot have changed. "Just four years ago, to think that Universal would put an opening film in competition (Atonement), that they would take the risk of doing that, or that Warner Bros would put a Brad Pitt-produced starrer in competition (The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford), that Fox would launch a new Wes Anderson movie in competition (The Darjeeling Limited) would seem unthinkable," Mueller says.
After four artistic directors in the past eight years, the stability of Mueller's tenure is paying off. He works alongside Biennale president Davide Croff, who has doubled the private sponsorship for the film festival during the past four years. The pair have also advanced the palazzo del cinema, a projected $120m project to create a new cinema palace and festival infrastructure. In a major step forward, the Italian government has signed a state co-financing deal for the project.
These advances have been all the more important with the ambitious Rome Film Fest (October 18-27) joining the fray last year and raising questions about Venice's future. For now, whether the duo's mandate will be extended another four years is not yet clear. "Marco and I worked together with a medium-long range project and we think that time frame has been necessary in order to best express ourselves," says Croff. "We will continue to look for targets to reach and explore. Cinema is in continual evolution, and growing along side that is absolutely feasible."
Dir: Nikita Mikhalkov
Award-winning director Mikhalkov adapts Sidney Lumet's 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, about a bickering jury, to 21st century Russia. The film focuses on the fate of an 18-year-old Chechen accused of killing his father.
Contact: Three T Productions, (7) 495 699 5071
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (US)
Dir: Andrew Dominik
Brad Pitt's portrayal of the 19th century outlaw Jesse James promises action and romance aplenty. Ben Affleck's younger brother Casey co-stars as an ambitious recruit to James' posse. The fact this is Chopper director Andrew Dominik's follow-up only makes things tastier.
Int'l dist: Warner Bros Pictures International, (1) 818 954 6000
Atonement (UK-US-Fr) (opening film)
Dir: Joe Wright
With his follow-up to the Oscar nominated Pride & Prejudice, UK director Joe Wright tackles an even weightier literary adaptation in Ian McEwan's novel. Atonement stars Pride's leading lady Keira Knightley and hot UK actor James McAvoy. The complex story of family loyalties, lies, love and loss set in England around the Second World War was produced by Working Title and Paul Webster of Kudos Pictures and Focus Features, which releases in the US on December 7. Universal opens the film in the UK and Ireland on September 14 (see People, p15).
Int'l dist: Universal Pictures Int'l, (44) 20 7307 1300
Dir: Youssef Chahine
A contemporary look at Cairo, focusing on a corrupt but lovable policeman, played by Khaled Saleh. The $2m project was produced by Chahine's Misr Films.
Int'l sales: Pyramide International, (33) 1 429 601 01
The Darjeeling Limited (US)
Dir: Wes Anderson
Word is that The Life Aquatic director has brewed yet another winning blend of whimsy and heartfelt storytelling. Oscar winner Adrien Brody joins Anderson regulars Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman in the tale of estranged brothers who take a train ride through India as a bonding exercise.
Int'l dist: Fox International, (1) 310 369 5105
En La Ciudad De Sylvia (Sp)
Dir: Jose Luis Guerin
Guerin follows the success of his previous film, the Goya-winning documentary En Construccion, with this drama about a man who returns to Strasbourg to track down a woman he met four years earlier.
Contact: Eddie Saeta, (34) 93 467 70 40
I'm Not There (US)
Dir: Todd Haynes
An audacious, experimental biopic of musician Bob Dylan: Haynes has enlisted seven actors to portray the icon at various stages of his life, among them Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere and the UK's Ben Whishaw.
Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams, (33) 1 49 70 03 70
In The Valley Of Elah (US)
Dir: Paul Haggis
Haggis' directorial follow-up to his 2006 Oscar winner Crash has plenty of awards potential. Arguably the leader of the pack of Iraq War-themed releases coming out of the US this autumn, this torrid tale follows a former military policeman who uncovers nasty truths after his son goes AWOL. Oscar winners Charlize Theron, Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon star alongside Jonathan Tucker.
Int'l sales: Summit Entertainment, (1) 310 309 8400
It's A Free World (UK-It-Ger-Sp)
Dir: Ken Loach
After his Cannes triumph in 2006 with Palme d'Or winner The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Loach returns to contemporary social issues with this project, formerly titled These Times. Newcomers Kierston Wareing and Juliet Ellis star as two Londoners who open an employment agency for recent immigrants. Loach's partner in Sixteen Films, Rebecca O'Brien, produced and many of the director's European co-producers are on board.
Int'l sales: Pathe Pictures International, (44) 20 7462 4427
La Graine Et Le Mulet (Fr)
Dir: Abdellatif Kechiche
This aspirational film, about a shipyard worker who looks to set up a restaurant with the help of his family, is Kechiche's second title to appear at Venice following the award-winning Blame It On Voltaire in 2000.
Int'l sales: Pathe Distribution, (33) 1 717 233 05
Les Amours D'Astree Et Celadon (Fr-It-Sp)
Dir: Eric Rohmer
Over 20 years after winning a Golden Lion for Summer, Rohmer returns to the Lido with this love story based on the 17th-century novel L'Astree by Honore d'Urfe.
Int'l sales: Rezo Films, (33) 1 42 46 46 30
L'Ora Di Punta (It)
Dir: Vincenzo Marra
This $2.1m film, which takes a dramatic look at human relationships and morality, stars Fanny Ardant and Michele Lastella. Marra's Tornando A Casa won best film at Venice's Critics' Week in 2001.
Int'l sales: Films Distribution, (33) 1 531 033 99
Lust, Caution (Taiwan)
Dir: Ang Lee
Ang's anticipated return to Chinese-language film-making has its Taiwan release on 25 September to qualify for an Oscar nomination as best foreign-language film. The adaptation of Eileen Chang's novella is cast for regional success with Hong Kong's Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Taiwan's Wang Lee-hom and Chinese newcomer Tang Wei. Focus Features holds worldwide rights to the wartime spy thriller outside Asia, where Edko has closed major territories.
Int'l sales: Focus Features, (1) 818 777 7373
Men With No Quality (It-Sw-Fr)
Dir: Paolo Franchi
This existential noir focuses on a man's friendship with a fatherless boy (Elio Germano) who seems to know everything about him. The strong cast includes Irene Jacob and Bruno Todeschini. A promising director, Franchi's first film, La Spettatrice, debuted at Tribeca in 2004 and was sold to several major territories. ITC Movie is producing in partnership with Bianca Film and Ventura Film with BIM handling distribution.
Contact: ITC Movie, (39) 051 339 7711
Michael Clayton (US)
Dir: Tony Gilroy
George Clooney is in serious mode as a New York law firm's fixer charged with brushing corporate mistakes under the carpet, but who struggles with his private life. "George can be very convincing and conflicted, which made him perfect for the role," director Tony Gilroy says. Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Sydney Pollack add muscle to this Manhattan merger mystery.
Int'l sales: Summit Entertainment, (1) 310 309 8400
Dir: Peter Greenaway
Greenaway's Rembrandt biopic has been timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of his birth. Martin Freeman stars as the painter in the story of mysterious events leading to the 1642 masterpiece The Night Watch. ContentFilm has already sold a number of territories.
Int'l sales: ContentFilm, (44) 20 7851 6500
Dir: Brian De Palma
De Palma tackles the Iraq War head- on, with a fictionalised account of young US soldiers in combat hell. The cast consists of largely unknown US TV actors. Magnolia Pictures is handling domestic distribution.
Int'l sales: HDNet International, (1) 212 255 0626
Dir: Kenneth Branagh
Branagh has had a hit-and-miss track record of late, but his latest project, a remake of Sleuth, starring Jude Law and Michael Caine, promises more commercial appeal. Paramount Pictures International has already shown early confidence in the project, taking UK, Australia, New Zealand and South African rights. Sony Classics will release in the US on October 12. Law says: "Branagh brings the perfect combination of wit and intelligence to the project."
Int'l sales: Mandate Pictures, (1) 310 300 2071
Sukiyaki Western Django (Jap)
Dir: Takashi Miike
As the hybrid title suggests, Sukiyaki Western Django is Japan's first 'macaroni western' (as they are calling it there). It is said to be the first time a Japanese feature film cast has delivered all their dialogue in English. Features a cameo from Quentin Tarantino as mythical gunslinger Piringo.
Int'l sales: Sedic International, (81) 3 576 689 29
The Sun Also Rises (Chi)
Dir: Jiang Wen
Jiang Wen returns to the international arena seven years after the Cannes Grand Prix winning Devils On The Doorstep. The Sun Also Rises is presented in a poetic visual style with four loosely related stories revolving around survival and human desire. The $10m film is backed by Emperor Motion Pictures and Beijing Taihe Film Investment.
Int'l sales: Emperor Motion Pictures, (852) 283 566 88
The Sweet And The Bitter (It)
Dir: Andrea Porporati
A Palermo man whose life is spent around the Mafia eventually becomes a 'pentito' (informer). Festival director Marco Mueller calls it "the best Mafia film in years".
Int'l sales: Adriana Chiesa Enterprises, (39) 06 808 6052
OUT OF COMPETITION: MASTERS
Beyond The Years (S Kor)
Dir: Im Kwon-taek
Im's 100th film is a sequel to his 1993 classic Seopyonje, featuring the wandering Pansori musician Dong-ho attempting to reunite with his adopted sister and soulmate Song-hwa. Produced by Kino2 Pictures.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53 01 50 20
Cassandra's Dream (UK-US)
Dir: Woody Allen
Allen continues his love affair with Europe in his third UK-set drama. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell star as two troubled brothers who meet a woman (Hayley Atwell) chasing a fortune. Wild Bunch has already sold most territories, including a US/Australia/New Zealand deal with The Weinstein Company.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (44) 20 7792 9791
Dir: Julio Bressane
Brazilian radical Bressane is best known for his 1969 classic Killed The Family And Went To The Movies. In the $1.6m Cleopatra, Bressane follows the struggles, lovers and tragedies in the life of the Egyptian queen.
Int'l sales: Grupo Novo de Cinema e TV, (55) 21 25 39 15 38
Cristovao Colombo - O Enigma (Port-Fr)
Dir: Manoel De Oliveira
De Oliveira may turn 100 next year, but he is still going strong. His latest effort is based on the book by Manuel and Silvia Da Silva about their journey to prove Christopher Columbus was, in fact, Portuguese.
Int'l sales: Rezo Films, (33) 1 424 64630
Dir: Amos Gitai
Israeli director Gitai's Disengagement, starring Juliette Binoche, is a political drama focusing on one family's struggles during Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza strip in 2005. The film marks Gitai's twelfth invitation to Venice.
Int'l sales: Studio Canal, 33 (1) 71 35 35 35
La Fille Coupee En Deux (Fr)
Dir: Claude Chabrol
Chabrol's latest film boasts a cast of hot young talent including Ludivine Sagnier, Benoit Magimel and Edouard Baer. It tells of a love triangle centring on a girl (Sagnier) who is pursued by an older writer (Francois Berleand) and a young, impetuous heir (Magimel). It was released in France on August 8.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53 01 50 20
Glory To The Filmmaker! (Jap)
Dir: Takeshi Kitano
Kitano won the Golden Lion for Hana-Bi in 1997 and he is back in Venice with this funny, downright bizarre, self-reflexive take on the director's creative process.
Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams, (33) 1 4970 0370
Help Me Eros (Tai)
Dir: Lee Kang-sheng
Following his award-winning The Missing, Lee's second feature, produced by regular collaborator Tsai Ming-liang, treads a familiar path of alienation, obsession and unconventional relationships (see People, p12). The highly sexed Help Me Eros will appeal to buyers of Tsai's erotic musical The Wayward Cloud.
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films, (852) 2311 8081
OUT OF COMPETITION: MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS
Blood Brothers (China) (closing film)
Dir: Alexi Tan
Tan's $10m 1930s Shanghai gangster epic Blood Brothers opens across Chinese territories in August before closing Venice. A star cast includes Daniel Wu, Shu Qi and Chang Chen but the major international selling point is producer John Woo, who has been hands-on in the editing room. CMC Entertainment has sold all territories in Asia except Japan, which they expect to close soon.
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films, (852) 23 11 8081
Far North (UK-Fr)
Dir: Asif Kapadia
Far North, previously known as True North, stars Michelle Yeoh, Sean Bean and newcomer Michelle Crusiec in an Arctic-set story about the collision of a native culture with greed-driven invaders. The Bureau's Bertrand Faivre, who worked with Kapadia on his 2001 Bafta-winning debut The Warrior, produced.
Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams, (33) 1 49 70 0370
The Nanny Diaries (US)
Dirs: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Berman and Pulcini (American Splendor) take a decidedly different direction with their second feature. A brunette Scarlett Johansson plays a nanny who looks after the scion of a dysfunctional New York clan. Also stars Laura Linney, Paul Giamatti and Chris Evans.
Int'l sales: The Weinstein Company, (1) 646 862 3400
Dir: Adria Garcia, Victor Maldonado
The first of two Filmax titles in the Midnight section, Nocturna, directed by first timers Garcia and Maldonado, is a fantasy animation about a young boy's night-time adventures.
Contact: Filmax Int'l, (34) 933 36 85 55
Dir: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
Two of Spain's horror film specialists Balaguero (Darkness) and Plaza (Second Name) have teamed to co-direct the $2m REC about a young TV reporter shadowing the crew of a local fire station. Produced by Filmax.
Contact: Filmax Int'l, (34) 933 36 85 55
The Hunting Party (US)
Dir: Richard Shepard
You can clear your throat at Sundance and get a standing ovation, but there was something about the rapturous reception that followed Shepard's 2005 world premiere of The Matador in Park City that suggested a bright future. His second film stars a resurgent Richard Gere, riding high on critical acclaim for The Hoax, as a veteran newsman on the trail of Bosnia's most wanted war criminal.
Int'l sales: QED International, (1) 310 273 3004
HORIZONS - DOCS
Dirs: Paloma Rocha and Joel Pizzini
Rocha and Pizzini made this $160,000 reflective essay-documentary as a prolongation of acclaimed Brazilian film-maker Glauber Rocha's The Age Of The Earth (1980).
Contact: Paloma Rocha Producoes Artisticas e Cinematograficas, (55) 21 22 26 06 33
Dir: Julian Schnabel
Schnabel won the grand special jury prize at Venice in 2000 with Before Night Falls. He returns to the Lido with this documentary depicting a live performance of Lou Reed's Berlin album.
Contact: Waterboy Productions, (212) 627 7011
Crossing The Line (It)
Dir: Pietro Marcello
A curious film about the lives of workers, mostly immigrants, who take the express trains in Italy from south to north.
Int'l sales: Indigo Film, (39) 06 77250255
Death In The Land Of Encantos (Phil)
Dir: Lav Diaz
Running at more than eight hours, this documentary shows the devastation caused by a typhoon in the Philippines.
Int'l sales: Sine Olivia, (63) 2437 1598
Dir: Cao Guimaraes
Drifter is the second film of a trilogy about solitude, looking at three lonely drifters in Brazil.
Int'l sales: 88 Filmes, (55) 31 92 91 06 42
Dir: Hartmut Bitomsky
Bitomsky found time between his obligations as the rector of Berlin's Film & Television Academy to give a philosophical spin to his latest documentary - about dust.
Int'l sales: Deckert Distribution, (49) 341 215 66 38
Dir: Arnaud Desplechin
Desplechin's Kings And Queen, featured in competition three years ago. He returns to Venice with a documentary about his childhood in northern France.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53 01 50 20
Dir: Barbara Cupisti
Shot between Israel, Palestine and Gaza in English, Arabic and Hebrew, this film follows the travails of mothers facing the prospect of never seeing their children return home.
Int'l sales: 01 Distribution, (39) 06 684 701
Man From Plains (US)
Dir: Jonathan Demme
Demme follows Jimmy Carter, as the former US president tours America promoting his controversial book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
Int'l sales: ICM, (1) 31 05 504 000
Dir: Du Haibin
A prose-like film documenting five different social groups, Umbrella was chosen by Beijing-based Cnex Productions as the first of its funded projects.
Contact: Cnex Productions, (86) 10 6407 3571
Dir: Jia Zhangke
Following his documentary Dong at last year's Venice, Jia Zhangke returns with Useless, documenting the clothing and fashion industry in China's budding consumer culture. French distributor Memento has pre-bought international rights.
Int'l sales: Memento Films International, (33) 1 43 66 25 24
Un Basier S'il Vous Plait (Fr)
Dir: Emmanuel Mouret
Mouret returns after his 2006 comedy Changement d'Adresse, with Un Baiser s'Il Vous Plait, a romance based around the first kiss, starring Virginie Ledoyen, Stefano Accorsi, Julie Gayet and Mouret himself.
Int'l sales: TF1 International, (33) 1 41 41 35 32
Sympathy For The Lobster (It)
Dir: Sabina Guzzanti
On the heels of successful anti-Silvio Berlusconi documentary Viva Zapatero, Guzzanti returns with a political comedy that looks at the situation facing Sardinian fishermen. Produced by Fandango, with Istituto Luce holding Italian distribution rights.
Int'l sales: Valeria Licurgo, Fandango/Portobello, email@example.com
- Profiles by Nancy Tartaglione-Vialatte, Jeremy Kay, Sen-lun Yu, Sheri Jennings, Stephen Cremin, Antonia Carver, Jean Noh, Kirill Galetski, Jason Gray, Wendy Mitchell, Martin Blaney, Denis Seguin, Silvia Wong, Elaine Guerini, Theodore Schwinke and Chris Evans.
Dir: Alain Gomis
This French-Spanish co-production from Senegalese director Gomis explores one man's journey of self-discovery. Produced by MLK Producciones, Malleric Films and Mille et une productions.
Int'l sales: Colifilms, (33) 1 42 94 25 43
Cargo 200 (Rus)
Dir: Alexei Balabanov
Balabanov, director of the Brother films, wrote and directed this gritty Soviet-era crime drama set in 1984, starring Agniya Kuznetsova and Aleksei Poluyan.
Int'l sales: Raissa Fomina, (7) 495 255 90 82
Continental, A Film Without Guns (Can)
Dir: Stephane Lafleur
Described as a darkly comic film with Scandinavian undertones similar to Roy Andersson's Songs From The Second Floor, Continental follows a man journeying into a forest after waking on an empty bus. Toronto programmers - the film plays there after the Venice premiere - have been tracking it since Lafleur pitched the film to producer Luc Dery three years ago. Christal Films hold Canadian distribution rights.
Int'l dist: Christal Films International, (1) 514 336 9696
Don't Think About It (It)
Dir: Gianni Zanasi
A generational comedy from the director of I'm In The Thick Of It. Valerio Mastandrea stars as a failed guitarist who returns to his home province. Produced by Pupkin Production and ITC Movie with La7 Italian television.
Int'l sales: Rita Rognoni, (328) 1866682
Head Under Water (Ger)
Dir: Andreas Kleinert
It is almost 10 years since Kleinert's previous feature Paths Into The Night, though in the intervening period he made several TV movies. He returns to the cinema with this psychological thriller featuring rising young star Frederick Lau and August Diehl.
Contact: Typhoon Films, (49) 30 847 15 70
La Zona (Sp-Mex)
Dir: Rodrigo Pla
Pla is no stranger to the Venice Days sidebar, having had two previous films in the section. His latest work explores a man's fight for justice, freedom and security in a broken society.
Contact: Alta Films, (34) 915 422 702
Plum Rain (Fr)
Dir: Frederic Fisbach
Fisbach's first feature film is a fantasy adventure starring Adriana Asti and Gilbert Melki. Shilo Films is producing.
Contact: Shilo Films, (33) 1 48 78 98 36
Dir: Ed Radtke
Radtke's third feature is styled as a lyrical account of a 13-year-old and his friends who long to escape their mundane existence in Brooklyn. The friends dream of journeying to exotic locations as they watch travelogues on camcorders they steal from tourists. Industry veteran Ira Deutchman produces.
Int'l sales: Kindred Media Group, (1) 610 539 8070
Dir: Andrzej Jakimowski
An uplifting story of a young boy who experiments with cause and effect to reunite his family. Damian Ul's lead performance is charming without being cartoonish.
Contact: Andrzej Jakimowski, Zjednoczenie Artystow i Rzemieslnikow, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dir: Salvatore Maira
Valzer is billed as a 90-minute one-take melodrama. Experimental and modern, the film proposes itself to be free of tried and tested techniques, as it tells the story of a man and a girl who appears to be his daughter.
Int'l sales: Marco Quintili, (06) 97617767
VENICE DAYS DOCS
Born Without (Mex)
Dir: Eva Norvind
Born Without follows the life of the severely handicapped actor and musician Jose Flores. Norwegian director Norvind, who died last year, said the film was about "sharing, daring and being grateful for what we have".
Int'l sales: Buena Onda Americas, (1) 305 534 9123
Vita E Opere Di Luciano Bianciardi (It)
Dirs: Massimo Collola, Alberto Piccinini
Produced by Indigo films, this documentary by Collola and Piccinini looks at the life and work of anarchist writer Luciano Bianciardi.
Contact: Carlotta Caluri, (06) 77250255
Portrait: Non-Stop Journey In Carlo Lizzani Cinema (It)
Dir: Francesca Del Sette
A film covering the life of veteran film-maker Carlo Lizzani, from his apprenticeship with Rossellini, to meetings with Pasolini and his involvement with Neorealism.
Contact: Veronica Mona, (39) 335 7373594
Under The Bombs (Fr-UK-Leb)
Dir: Philippe Aractingi
Aractingi shot Under The Bombs in Lebanon during last summer's war, dodging Israeli bombs to make a love story about Shi'ite career woman Zeina (Nada Abou Farhat) searching for her son. Aractingi is known for his 2005 local box-office smash Bosta.
Int'l sales: Wide Management, (33) 1 53 95 0464
Autumn Ball (Estonia)
Dir: Veiko Ounpuu
Set in a grim housing estate, Ounpuu's feature debut follows an ensemble of characters as they chase happiness. Arthouse audiences will respond to the Dostoevsky-like pathos and the moments of absurd comedy.
Contact: Kuukulgur Film, (372) 600 9237
Dir: Laura Amelia Guzman, Israel Cardenas
Set in Mexico, this family drama tells the story of two young brothers who set out on a journey to deliver a package in a far-off community. Produced by Buena Onda and Canana Films.
Int'l sales: Ondamax Films, (1) 305 535 3577
Dir: Penny Woolcock
UK director Woolcock follows up Mischief Night with this modern-day retelling of the Biblical book of Exodus, set 20 years in the future in the UK seaside town of Margate. Ruth Kenley-Letts produces for an autumn release, possibly as a two-part event on the UK's Channel 4 television with a simultaneous theatrical release.
Contact: Artangel, (44) 20 7713 1400
L'Histoire De Richard O (Fr)
Dir: Damien Odoul
Odoul's cast is made up of Mathieu Amalric, Stephane Terperaud and "13 women" as listed in the credits. The film explores the erotic underground in Paris and has racked up healthy sales, including to Germany's Telepool, Canada's Crystal and Korea's With Cinema.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53 01 50 20
Mal Nascida (Port)
Dir: Joao Canijo
After receiving a foreign-language Oscar nomination for his gritty drama In The Darkness Of The Night (2004), Canijo returns with this drama about a girl trying to cope with the death of her father. Produced by Clap Filmes.
Contact: Clap Filmes, (35) 1 21 32 558 00
Medee Miracle (It-Fr)
Dir: Tonino De Bernardi
A contemporary version of the Medea myth, De Bernardi's version sees Isabelle Huppert - who is also a co-producer - take the lead role.
Contact: Stella Films, (33) 1 42 02 41 35
The Obscure (China)
Dir: Lu Yue
The Obscure, shot eight years ago, is Lu's second film. The style oscillates between documentary and narrative, and focuses on Chinese writers at a literary salon. The Chinese authorities refused to let the film be shown at home, but it screened at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Int'l sales: Lu Yue, (86) 139 0106 5600
Sad Vacation (Japan)
Dir: Shinji Aoyama
Award-winning director Aoyama proves again why he is one of the world's most interesting film-makers. Sad Vacation is an oddly affecting depiction of the meaning of family.
Int'l sales: Stylejam Inc, (81) 3 5468 6172
Searchers 2.0 (US)
Dir: Alex Cox
Cox's first feature since 2002's Revengers Tragedy, Searchers 2.0 would appear to be a nod to John Ford's classic western and centres on two actors on a road trip in search of revenge.
Contact: New Concorde, (1) 310 820 6733
The Silence Before Bach (Sp)
Dir: Pere Portabella
Veteran Spanish film-maker Portabella, renowned for his narrative features that explore the relationship between sound and images, remains true to form with his latest film about how Johann Sebastian Bach transformed the world through music.
Contact: Films 59, (34) 93 215 5612
With The Girl Of Black Soil (S Kor-Fr)
Dir: Jeon Soo-il
Marking his return to Venice after The Bird Who Stops In The Air screened in New Territories, Jeon world premieres his latest film about a young girl taking care of her mentally disabled brother and ill father, set against the backdrop of a coalmining town in decline.
Int'l sales: Sponge Entertainment, (82) 2 543 3267