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The Venice Critics’ Week will open with British director Alice Lowe’s drama, Prevenge. The Critics’ Week is similar to the Cannes Critics Week, and will run along with the Venice Film Festival -- August 31 to September 10.
In Prevenge, which will have its world premiere on the Lido (the quaint little island off Venice where the festival takes place), Lowe herself will act as a heavily pregnant woman on a killing spree. The picture is supposed to have a comic strand as well.
Lowe has been mainly known for her witty roles in the Garth Marenghi series, and in the 2012 movie, Sightseers. So, Prevenge will be an absolutely new kind of work for Lowe, a work that will have a liberal sprinkling of violence and vendetta in addition to humour.
The Critics’ Week will close with Xander Robin’s Are We Not Cats -- which was one of three genre titles to screen as a work-in-progress at the Cannes this year.
Are We Not Cats is a peculiar story of a man who loses his job, girlfriend and apartment in a single day. And when he tries restarting his life, he meets a woman who shares his unusual compulsive habit - eating hair!
The Critics’ Week -- dedicated to debut features -- will include seven titles from five continents. None from India, though!
One of these seven will be the Iranian work, Drum, by Keywan Karimi -- who in October 2015 was sentenced to 223 lashes and six years in jail. This was subsequently reduced to one year. He was charged with criticism of the state. In one of his interviews, Karimi said that he was not afraid of being lashed, and that he would spend his time in prison writing a film script.
The Critics’ Week website has this to say about Drum: “The atmosphere is dreamlike, the characters have no name, neither the streets. Teheran is the only character whose name is constantly evoked. A lawyer, as many others, works and lives alone in his apartment, which is both his office and his home. In a cold and rainy day, a man burst into his apartment, speaks to him shortly and confusingly and gives him a package that will completely change his life.”
Iran is notorious for punishing cinema directors and other artists. Jafar Panahi is a classic case. He is now under house arrest of sorts in Teheran, and has been banned since 2010 from making movies. But this did not deter him from helming three films, one of which he smuggled in a pen-drive and hid it inside a cake The work titled, This is Not a Film, was screened at the 2011 Cannes. Panahi’s latest, Taxi, was part of the Berlin Film Festival in 2015, and this too was shot clandestinely, but with a touch of cocky guts. The work won the Golden Bear, Berlin’s top award.
As earlier reported, Spectre director Sam Mendes will chair this year’s Venice Competition jury. Assisting him will be American movie-maker Laurie Anderson, British actress Gemma Arterton, Italian screenwriter Giancarlo de Cataldo, German actress Nina Hoss, French actress Chiara Mastroianni, American director Joshua Oppenheimer, Venezuelan helmer Lorenzo Vigas, and Chinese star Zhao Wei.
The festival will announce is complete list of films in Rome on July 28.
Last year, Vetrimaaran’s fantastically powerful Tamil work about police brutality on migrant labourers from Tamil Nadu working in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh made a huge impact at Venice. In earlier years, Mani Ratnam’s Raavan/Raavanan (Hindi/Tamil) were shown at Venice, and many years ago in 2011, Mira Nair’s evocative family drama, Monsoon Wedding, walked away with Venice’s top prize, Golden Lion.
Will there be an Indian entry this year?
Full List of Venice Critics’ Week:
1. Prevenge, Alice Lowe (United Kingdom)
2. Are We Not Cats, Xander Robin (USA)
3. Akher Wahed Fina / The Last Of Us, Ala Eddine Slim (Tunisia, Qatar, UAE, Libano)
4. Drum, Keywan Karimi (France, Iran)
5. Jours de France / Four Days In France by Jérôme Reybaud (France)
6. Los nadie / The Nobodies, Juan Sebastián Mesa (Colombia)
7. Prank, Vincent Biron (Canada)
8. Singing In Graveyards, Bradley Liew (Malaysia, Philippines)
9. Le ultime cose, Irene Dionisio (Italy, Switzerland, France)