The Venice International Film Critics’ Week is an independent and parallel section of the Venice International Film Festival organized by the Union of Italian Film Critics (SNCCI) during the Venice International Film Festival. The programme includes a selection of seven debut films in competition and two special events out of competition.
Since 2016, the Venice Critics’ Week presents SIC@SIC (Short Italian Cinema @ Settimana Internazionale della Critica), a selection of seven short films in competition by Italian directors who have not yet embarked on a full-length film, all screened in world premiere. The programme was born from the synergy between the Union of Italian Film Critics and Istituto Luce-Cinecittà as one of the initiatives supporting the development of new Italian cinema and promoting young filmmakers.
Founded in1984 by Italian film historian and critic Lino Micciché, throughout the years the Venice Critics’ Week has been showcasing first feature films by emerging directors who then went on establishing themselves in the international panorama.
In 1985, Kevin Reynolds presented a film that became a cult movie: Fandango. The following year, the sidebar section screened Désordre by debutant Olivier Assayas,. The British director and scriptwriter Mike Leigh joined the 1988 selection with High Hopes and sixteen years later came back to Venice to win the Golden Lion with Vera Drake. That same year, the section premiered Let’s Get Lost, the directorial debut of legendary fashion photographer Bruce Weber, later Oscar nominee. 1989 is the year of O Sangue, the first feature fiction film by celebrated Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa . In 1993 Bryan Singer, cult director of The Usual Suspects and the X-Men saga, debuted at the Venice Critics’ Week with his thriller Public Access. In 1997, the sidebar section brought to light Gummo, the debut film by one of the most prominent names in today’s US indie cinema, Harmony Korine. The following year, Peter Mullan debuted with Orphans, and in 2002 won the Golden Lion with his sophomore film The Magdalene Sisters. In 1999, Argentinean director Pablo Trapero premiered Mundo Grúa. In 2000, La faute à Voltaire by Abdellatif Kechiche – director and scriptwriter of La vie d’Adèle, Cannes Palme d’Or in 2014 – won the Lion of the Future Award. That same year, the selection included You Can Count on Me by debutant Kenneth Lonergan, Oscar winner in 2017 for Manchester by the Sea. In recent years, Tanna (2015) by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler landed the nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards, whereas The Last of Us by Ala Eddine Slim won the 2016 Lion of the Future and later triumphed at the African Academy Awards.
The Venice International Film Critics’ Week also hosted the debuts of some of the most influential Italian directors. Carlo Mazzacurati’s talent came under the spotlight in 2010 with Notte italiana. La stazione (1990) was the directorial debut of actor Sergio Rubini and won the Best First Feature Film prize, which the following year went to Antonio Capuano for Vito e gli altri. Roberta Torre debuted in 1997 with Tano da morire, which later won the David di Donatello, the Globo d’Oro and the Nastro d’Argento for Best Emerging Director. In 2001, Tornando a casa marked Vincenzo Marra’s debut. In 2003, Salvatore Mereu debuted with Ballo a tre passi, and got a special mention for the Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Award; and in 2007 Andrea Molaioli presented La ragazza del lago, later earning ten David di Donatello awards. In 2012 actor Luigi Lo Cascio presented his first film, La città ideale. The following year, Matteo Oleotto premiered Zoran, My Nephew the Idiot, while The Art of Happiness by the renowned Neapolitan animation artist Alessandro Rak opened the sidebar section, later winning a European Film Award.