In 2003, Venice Film Festival organizers decided to take a page from the Telluride film festival's book and leave one slot open in their 24-entry competition lineup each year, for a surprise entry to be announced during the fest. The announcements to date have been a mixed bag ranging from forgettable foreign films to some pleasant additions such as Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" and most notably, Jia Zhangke's "Still Life" which went on to win the Golden Lion in 2006. So, will this year's entry be a footnote or make an impact?
Director Cai Shangjun is hoping for the latter as his film "Ren Shan Ren Hai" ("People Mountain People Sea") will play today on the Lido and will be hoping to shake things up. Starring Jianbin Chen, Hong Tao and Xiubo Wu, the revenge film is based on a true story, and follows five brothers who hunt down the man who murdered their younger sibling. While Shangjun may not yet be known stateside, he's a regular writer for director Zhang Yang and his 2007 film "The Red Awn" gained some heat after winning awards at the Pusan and Thessaloniki film festivals, while taking the jury prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Wel have to wait and see what the critics say after "People Mountain People Sea" screens tonight to determine if it was a worthy competition entry. Still plenty to come from Venice as the festival continues until September 10th. [Venice]