News 2016

31. Venice Critics’ Week Line-Up unveiled: films in competition and special events

The National Union of Italian Film Critics and La Biennale di Venezia have unveiled the line-up for the 31st Venice Film Critics’ Week. The independent section of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival will take place from 31st August to 10th September. The 2016 line-up includes a selection of seven first time director’s full-length films from all over the world plus two special events.

In Competition

  • Akher Wahed Fina / The Last of Us by Ala Eddine Slim (Tunisia, Qatar, UAE, Libano)

  • Jours de France / Four days in France by Jérôme Reybaud (France)

  • Los nadie / The Nobodies by Juan Sebastián Mesa (Colombia)

  • Prank by Vincent Biron (Canada)

  • Singing in Graveyards by Bradley Liew (Malaysia, Philippines)

  • Tabl / Drum by Keywan Karimi (France, Iran)

  • Le ultime cose by Irene Dionisio (Italy, Switzerland, France)

Opening Film – Special Event Out of Competition

  • Prevenge by Alice Lowe (United Kingdom)

Closing Film – Special Event Out of Competion  

The full press release can be downloaded here.

Year One. Cinema is always at Year One. Only numbers and statistics believe in its crisis (that is not really there, but we can see it). The cinema for which is worth entering the field for, is still being made. It’s out there, you just need to see it. The Venice International Film Critics’ Week – a place where authors such as Olivier Assayas, Mike Leigh, Harmony Kornie, Kevin Reynolds, Pedro Costa, Antonio Capuano and Michel Bena where discovered–, has always been a privileged interlocutor of this renewal.
Festivals are an object of periodical and not particularly stimulating discussions that interrogate their own usefulness. They should rather be a narration-place about cinema, and not merely a dull marketplace of available cinematographic goods (the eclecticism is rather overvalued); an arena where a certain thinking is constructed, reflecting on what can still be done with the moving images and where an idea, hopefully not a banal one, is put forth about the state of the world we are living in. 
This is not a new idea. Rossellini used to do it. And if we can still dare to get inspiration from just one of the traits of Rossellini’s poetics, that should be the complete absence of any cinematic nostalgia; the fact that he was always in the present tense, in the unfolding of history. He was so present in the unfolding of his time, that he became maybe the only filmmaker that thought about the future of cinema (and not only). That’s it. The determination of being present, without surrendering to nostalgia or mythology. This is the first propulsive drive of this 31st edition of the Venice International Film Critics’ Week.
Today’s cinema, made today, for today’s eyes. Because only the present, that manifests itself in multiple forms that cannot be grasped, can allow us to imagine a form of cinema that goes back to exploring our relationship with what happens on the screen and around it.
The selected films for this edition, picked among more than 500 titles submitted (there would be enough for at least two selections…), are characterized by a “filmic pleasure”, a “pleasure” that is activated through putting us back into the game against visual conventions. A “pleasure” whose founding elements are risk and astonishment. From Prevenge – a genius post-feminist slasher movie directed by Alice Lowe, known for her roles in Edgar Wright and Ben Wheatley’s films – to Le ultime cose by Irene Dionisio – tense re-visitation of neorealist humanism – we can see a remapping not of things already seen but of those yet to be seen.
Keywan Karimi, Iranian filmmaker sentenced to one year of jail and 223 lashes for offending Islam, authors a metaphysical and expressionist noir with Drum, while Ala Eddine Slim, Tunisian documentary filmmaker and video artist with his The Last of Us, re-launches with great audacity an abstract and experimental cinema which is adventurous and honestly even science fictional.
Because deep inside, cinema is by definition, a young form of art, as it should be. But not only in a perspective of age. One has only to look at Los Nadie by Juan Sebastián Mesa, shot in seven days throughout the most inaccessible streets of Medellin, or Prank by Vincent Biron, former director of photography of Denis Côté, a parable of hard-core post-salingerian nihilism.
And cinema is also, and always, a reclaiming (or loosing again…) of one’s place in the world. Jours de France by Jerome Reybaud hypothesizes a sensual sentimental voyage using an exceptional navigator such as Grindr, to find again the forgotten name of things.
Pepe Smith, a Filipino rock legend, is probably the most surprising presence. The main character of Singing in Graveyards, together with Lav Diaz, offers an image and a mirror of the complex relationship of the characters with modernity and democracy in their country.
Finally, as a closing film, we present Are We Not Cats by Xander Robin, a visceral melodramatic horror, a dark fairytale articulated through the music of Funkadelik, Yvonne Fair, Lightning Bolt and Albert Ayler. A great surprise coming from the US that manages to reconnect itself with the new wave of the early 1980s, reinventing instinctive impulses and dreamlike calligraphies.
Let’s not forget the wonderful and wild group of Italian short filmmakers of SIC@SIC, a synergy activated in collaboration with Instituto Luce-Cinecittà. Authors launched to the conquest of the future, armed with their gaze only: surprising, rigorous, audacious, tender, provocative, radical and generous. Sponsored by Marco Bellocchio, the youngest and most vital of the Italian maestros. Take note today of the names of Chiara Leonardi and Edoardo Ferraro, Valentina Pedicini and Rossella Inglese, Maria Giovanna Cicciari, Fatima Bianchi and the collective Caruso, Falanga, Lombardi, Tenace.
The 31st edition of the Venice International Film Critics’ Week is not a closed proposition, but an invitation to a voyage. We put forth today the premises to imagine the cinema that is still to be invented.  

Giona A. Nazzaro
General Delegate – 31. Venice International Film Critics’ Week