VENICE DAYS POISED FOR ITS 12TH EDITION
The lineup for Venice Days 2015, which will run from September 2 to 12 in conjunction with the 72nd Venice Film Festival, is doubtless the most varied, unpredictable, international, and at the same time most "Italian" of lineups in the history of this by now well-established cinematic event promoted by the Italian filmmakers' associations (ANAC and 100autori) in agreement with the Venice Biennale. Directed by Giorgio Gosetti, under the presidency of Roberto Barzanti, Venice Days brings the faces of independent film around the world to the Lido each year, while cultivating an ongoing dialogue and a focus on the frontiers of filmmaking today, in a spirit which certainly goes well beyond that of a mere "showcase" of glittering premieres.
A few names and numbers to get better acquainted with our program: 20 films, 15 countries, 8 first films, 18 world premieres, 8 women filmmakers; a world-class director such as Carlos Saura; the Nobel-Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk and the founder of the Odin Teatret, Eugenio Barba, both of whom will take the stage for two of our special events. Then there's the Palme d'or winner Laurent Cantet, chairing the jury; the muse of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda, central to the Women's Tales series produced by Miu Miu; along with film stars Luis Tosar, Miranda Otto, Sam Neill, Paul Ducet, Suzanne Clément, Riccardo Scamarcio, Alba Rohrwacher, Celia Rowlson Hall.
With a grand finale for Venice Days thrown in, held in the center of the Venetian Lagoon, at the historic rowing club in Pellestrina, while across the narrow channel Chioggia will be hosting four special evening events even before the festival gets underway, to celebrate the twelve-year history of our sidebar.
Every year, ahead of the leading film festivals, the media have a field day arguing over the "national quotas" for each lineup: too many German films at the Berlinale, Cannes top-heavy with French auteurs, Venice playing favorites with its Italian directors. And we're proud to uphold the tradition this year: we'll be delighted if the three Italian films on Venice Days' competitive lineup hit the headlines. We're taking a well-pondered gamble on a debut filmmaker (Carlo Lavagna) whose fresh approach will do wonders for the image of Italy's emerging helmers; we're also betting on an important new film by Ascanio Celestini, back in Venice as an auteur filmmaker this time around; and welcoming Vincenzo Marra, a major, well-loved director who will present what is perhaps his most personal, passionate effort to date. In addition to this roster, we also will be turning our spotlight on experimental works that attest to a thriving, original film culture, thanks in no small part to our collaboration with SIAE, redoubling its efforts at Venice Days this year by supporting the "Venice Workshop The Seasons of Italian Cinema", a project in which Venice Days will be involved for the next three years.
For once, we've decided to state out front that our program is inspired by a two-fold underlying theme. On the one hand, the films on our line-up bring generational clashes to the fore, since we are aware, at different levels, that they represent a crucial dilemma today as in the past, a sort of tear in the social fabric which shatters the certainties of both those trying to find their way and those defending what they have and are afraid of losing.
On the other hand, stylistically speaking, independent cinema can once again boast an originality in terms of its gaze and its narratives that rivals that of its predecessors. After viewing hundreds of films submitted to Venice Days, we get the distinct impression of a freshness of tone, remarkable courage and an ethical power that all go into pushing the boundaries of the cinematic genre. It's another reason why we had no qualms about following up last year's "big-name directors" at Venice Days with this year's gamble on debut filmmakers and others actors as well as auteurs who have reinvented themselves and stopped playing it safe.
Eleven films will be in the running for the Venice Days Award, with its cash prize of €20,000 to be split equally between the filmmaker and the international distributor of the winning film. The winner will be selected during an open session of the jury chaired by Laurent Cantet.
These films will also be eligible for the BNL People's Choice Award promoted by BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas, while all the first films premiering at Venice Days are eligible for the Lion of the Future Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Film at the Venice Film Festival.
In addition, the European films in our official selection will be vying for the Label Europa Cinemas prize assigned by a jury comprised of member exhibitors. Lastly, the jury of FEDEORA film critics will assign its own prizes for best film and best debut filmmaker.
The special events that adorn the Venice Days 2015 program and accompany the competition (further validated by the success of Laurent Cantet's film Return to Ithaca and the overwhelming response to the original jury for 28 Times Cinema, made up of young European cinephiles) are genuine happenings: priceless occasions to encounter the finest in film, in a variety of striking styles and genres, and the men (and women) behind them. One more reason for us to give a special twist to our program by placing some of our premieres and events in the "Laguna Sud" program held, as the name says, in the southern reaches of the lagoon. This project curated by Andrea Segre and Giorgio Gosetti is a perfect counterpoint to the Venice Days program at the Venice Film Festival. We'll be in Chioggia to retell the story of our showcase, through some of the films that were defining moments in the creation of its essence and style, then in Pellestrina for our festive closing events, involving a new screening venue for the Venice Lagoon and three evening galas that seek to combine ‘cinema with a capital C' with a party atmosphere for all, as is only fitting for a festival sidebar that has always preferred the intense encounters with the cinematic art at the Villa degli Autori to the glamour and flashing cameras of the red carpet.
This year the Venice Days brand is clearly a "seal of quality" that transcends the confines of the Official Selection. In fact, three films screening at the Venice Film Festival will do so announced by a new formula: "in agreement with Venice Days". The titles are Stefano Chiantini's Storie sospese, which will be presented with our support by Produzione Pablo at the Cinema Astra on September 1; the documentary Il ghetto di Venezia: 500 anni di vita by Emanuela Giordano, screening at the Cinema Giorgione on September 6, in collaboration with the Jewish community in Venice; and the documentary I sogni del lago salato by Andrea Segre, the final film to screen in the "Laguna Sud" series in Pellestrina, on Sunday, September 13, in agreement with the Locarno International Film Festival.
And in agreement with the City of Venice, once again this year a number of Venice Days films will be on the program of "Esterno Notte", held in Venice and Mestre, while after the Venice Film Festival ends, the Venice Days lineup travels to Rome for the "Venezia a Roma" program at the Cinema Farnese, co-sponsored by AGIS-ANEC.
Meanwhile, SIAE, Venice Days' long-standing partner since its very first edition, will be expanding its activities on the Lido this year. In addition to bestowing its Special Prize for a collective audiovisual work made in Italy and the SIAE Prize for Innovation, the organization is launching into an ambitious three-year program to foster experimental film. Dubbed "Venice Workshop The Seasons of Italian Cinema," the project aims to start a conversation about aesthetics and the nature of film and audiovisual works in Italy, the idea being to pave the way for a future cross-media blend of mediums, with the decisive contribution of all forms of creative expression, from theater and music to sculpture and the other figurative arts.
Last but not least, Venice will once again be the setting for the European Parliament's initiatives revolving around the LUX Prize, with the presentation of this year's three finalist films (in conjunction with the Venice Film Festival) and the project "28 Times Cinema", which brings young cinephiles from all E.U. countries to the Lido for Venice Days, with the support of Europa Cinémas and Cineuropa.org.
This year's Venice Days art created by Antonella and Maria Teresa Pizzetti for Immagine&Strategia, once again the firm behind our graphics and the exterior design of the Villa degli Autori pays homage to the shape of dreams and a film legend as well: Orson Welles, who has two anniversaries this year. In a sort of ‘Rosebud moment', in fact, a crystal ball nostalgically reflects the happy summer days at the Villa, hinting at a different conception of a film festival and brand-new ways to experience the passion for film.
Venice Days continues to rely on the invaluable support of its technical and media partners: I-Club, the heart and soul of the Villa degli Autori since the event's debut; SubTi, now eleven years into its partnership with us for electronic subtitling; Frame by Frame, which designs the Venice Days official trailer; Cinecittà News and Cineuropa, also with us since our first edition for media reports in Italy and Europe at large; other media partners include La 27ORA, Ciak, Fred.fm. and L'Eco della Stampa.