US director RianJohnson's film noir Brick is among seven debut features screening in Critics Week at thisyear's Venice Film Festival (Aug 31-Sept 10).

The 20th CriticsWeek sidebar will also feature two French titles: Le Passager, a drama about a Parisian father-of-onewho heads back to Marseille when his brother, who he had not seen in 20 years,dies.

The picture,which marks the directorial debut of actor Eric Caravaca, also stars JulieDepardieu and Maurice Garrel.

Screening as aspecial event is French documentary Belzec by Guillaume Moscovitz, which focuses on the German concentration camp in occupied Poland.

Meanwhile, thisyear's competition will also mark the return of an Italian film in the CriticsWeek line-up after last year's drought.

Massimo Andrei'sMater Natura, about ayoung transexual who falls in love with another man, but later discovers thathis lover is about to get married to a waitress.

Also included inthe line-up is Perry Ogden's Irish feature Pavee Lackeen, about a 10-year-old Gypsy Traveller wholives with her mother and her brothers on the outskirts of Dublin; China's KuihuaDuoduo by Wang Baomin,which is set in a small village and focuses on a folk singer and a young manwho has just come out of prison where he served a sentence for rape.

Other titlesscreening are Mexican director Jesus-Mario Lozano's Asi, a feature about a young loner who isfilmed every day at the same time for 32 seconds; and Ali Mohammad Ghasemi'sIranian picture Yadasht Bar Zamin, about a woman who gives birth to a still-born child and herhusband, who feels that he is on a mission to kill all the children in thevillage.

The independentCritics Week sidebar is run by Italy's National Film Critics Union,the SNCCI.