26/07/2013

South Mediterranean films flood the Venetian stage

Eleven South Mediterranean films at the Venice Film Festival

Events and Festivals

South Mediterranean films flood the Venetian stage

South Mediterranean cinema is to shine at the Venice International Film Festival from August 28 to September 7, as eleven films from the region are to take part in the event, including two titles selected for its international feature film competition.

Merzak Allouache's Algerian co-production Es-Stouh and Amos Gitai's Israeli film Ana Arabia are both to premiere in the festival's international feature film competition.

Four films from the South Mediterranean region have also made it to the Venice Days' official selection, including two to make their world premiere at the event. 

Similar to the Cannes Film Festival's prestigious Directors' Fortnight, the Venice Days (or Giornate degli Autori) is an independent event on the fringes of the Venice Film Festival promoted by the associations of Italian film directors and authors. Like the festival, it has an official selection and awards films in its competition.

Co-produced by Israel, Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem recounts the story of a Palestinian boy torn between loyalty to his brother and an Israeli friend whom he admires. The film is to make its world premiere in the Venice Days' official selection. 

So is American filmmaker Sean Gullette's Traitors. The Moroccan co-production is to tell the story of Malika, a call centre operator by day and the uninhibited leader of a punk-rock band in Tangier's ancient casbah by night. Malika’s destiny will change when she has to find the money to direct a music video that will be her band's ticket to fame and fortune.

Jordanian co-production May in the Summer, a film that premiered at Sundance this year, is a tragicomedy by Cherien Dabis, that tells the story of May, who returns to Amman for her wedding, and lands smack in the middle of a dysfunctional family crisis.

Then comes the French-Italian coproduction Le Donne della Vucciria, a short film directed by Palestinian actress-turned-director Hiam Abbas. It's not her first film to screen in Venice, as she made her directorial debut at the Venice Days with Inheritance last yearThis time, her film is part of the second edition of the event's Women’s Tales sidebar section.

But that's not all for South Mediterranean cinema in Venice, as five other films from the region have also been picked for the Venice Days’ Film of the Decade competition. 

As part of it, filmgoers of all kinds are invited to vote online for the film and filmmaker that they think best embody the history and spirit of the Venice Days from a selection of 50 unmissable films.

Among the five South Mediterranean films in the online competition, Faouzi Bensaïdi's What a Wonderful World (2007, vote here) is the story of prostitute Souad and her best friend Kenza, a tough traffic cop, in this Moroccan co-production. When Kenza falls in love with Kamel, a stony-eyed contract killer, the life of the three characters will take an unexpected turn. 

Bensaïdi is perhaps best know for his third feature Death for Sale that was selected for Cannes in 2012 and won the 2012 Brussels Film Festival’s Golden Iris.

Lebanese co-production Under the bomb (2007, vote here) is Philippe Aractingi's second feature film. In the wake of Israel's 2006 bombardment of Lebanon, a determined woman finds her way into the country convincing a taxi cab driver to take a risky journey around the scarred region in search of her sister and her son.

Amir Manor’s Epilogue (2012, vote here) is an Israeli film recounting the story of Hayuta and Beri, an elderly couple, who find it hard to adjust to today's Israel and to the social changes surrounding them. After years of struggle, the two refuse to let go of their dreams and their revolutionary plans to build a welfare state in Israel. Over the course of a painful night of disillusionment, the two decide to leave their apartment for one last journey.

Susan Youssef's Palestinian film Habibi (2011, vote here) tells the story of two young lovers studying at a university in the West Bank, forced to return home when Israel puts Gaza under full closure in 2001.

Finally, the Israeli film Testimony (2011, vote here) directed by Shlomi Elkabetz presents Palestinian testimonies collected after the second Intifada revealing a harsh daily life reality that, for Israelis, had always belonged to the “others”, the Palestinians.

You can vote for up to five films in the Film of the Decade competition, including any of the five South Mediterranean films above, simply by clicking “Like” under their image on the Venice Days' Facebook page. 

The film of the decade will then be chosen from the 10 titles with the most clicks, and feted at the festival.

 

Julie Belgrado

Photo: May in the Summer

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