Faculty, Alumni, & Current Students Head to Venice Film Festival

August 13, 2018

The 75th Annual Venice Film Festival runs from August 29th to September 8th, and this year it will include numerous films written, directed, and produced by Columbia filmmakers.


The Venice Film Festival’s mission is to “raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment, and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue.” The festival is organized by La Biennale di Venezia, one of the oldest and most prestigious art organizations renowned for their annual art exhibit that features the work of contemporary artists from all over the world.


Still from Manila is Full of Men Named Boy

Still from Manila is Full of Men Named Boy, courtesy of Venice Film Festival


One short film and a feature by alumni will compete in the Orizzonti competition which recognizes “films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema.” One of these films is Manila is Full of Men Named Boy, written and directed by Andrew Stephen Lee '18 (Touch, The Sound of Coins Hitting Brass), co-written by Emre Gulcan '17 and current student Neda Jebelli. The film is co-produced by Mica Coburn '17 and executive produced by Valerie Castillo Martinez '16. Set in Manila, Philippines, during Michael Jackson’s funeral, the film follows an “estranged son who purchases a child who can drink and smoke to impress his father.” Manila is Full of Men Named Boy will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.


Still from Tel Aviv on Fire

Still from Tel Aviv on Fire, courtesy of Venice Film Festival


Also competing in the the Orizzonti competition is the feature film, Tel Aviv on Fire, written and directed by Sameh Zoabi '05 (Under the Same Sun, Man Without A Cell Phone) and co-written by Professor Emeritus Dan Kleinman (Rage, Welcome to Oblivion). Tel Aviv on Fire centers on “Salam, an inexperienced young Palestinian man, [who] becomes a writer on a popular soap opera after a chance meeting with an Israeli soldier. Salam’s creative career is on the rise—until the soldier and the show's financial backers disagree about how the show should end, and Salam is caught in the middle.”


Still from Screwdriver

Still from Screwdriver, courtesy of ScreenDaily


Two films will compete in the Venice Days section, a parallel but independent festival that champions filmmakers who “don't always fall within the traditional boundaries of cinematic storytelling,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. One of these films is Screwdriver (Mafak), a feature-length debut film written and directed by Bassam Jarbawi '10 and produced by alum and staff member Shrihari Sathe '09. Screwdriver (Mafak) revolves around “a newly-released Palestinian political prisoner who does not feel like he’s the hero that everyone hails him to be.”


Filming of Domino

Filming of Domingo, courtesy of ScreenDaily


Domingo, also competiting in Venice Days, is co-directed by Fellipe Barbosa '06 (Casa Grande, Gabriel and the Mountain, Salt Kiss). Domingo “is an ensemble drama that follows different members of an upper-class family on the momentous day of President Lula’s inauguration in 2003.”


Still from The Mountain

Still from The Mountain, courtesy of Venice Film Festival


Premiering and competing in the main competition is the feature-length film, The Mountain, whose post-production was supervised by Mark Sean Haynes '17. The Mountain follows a young man who loses his mother and is raised by an emotionally stunted father goes to work with a doctor who performs lobotomies and shock therapy in the 1950s. The film is based on the real-life figure, Dr. Walter Freeman.


Still from Blood Kin

Still from Blood Kin, courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Lastly, Associate FIlm Professor Ramin Bahrani CC '96 will premiere his short documentary, Blood Kin, which he wrote, directed, and produced. Blood Kin is set in “Red Oak, Texas where a teenage son murdered his father.” Bahrani will also serve on the panel of judges for the Luigi De Laurentiis Venice Award for a Debut Film – Lion of the Future award, which is awarded to the best debut film at the festival.