Andrés Peyrot’s “God Is a Woman” Documentary to Open Venice Film Festival’s “Critics Week”

Andrés Peyrot’s latest project is headed to the Venice Film Festival

The Swiss-Panamanian filmmaker’s documentary God Is a Women, which centers on Pierre Dominique Gaisseau’s 1975 journey to Panama to make a film on the island-dwelling Kuna people — whose women play a unique and sacred role — will open the festival’s Critics’ Week.

Andrés PeyrotThe section’s out-of-competition opener reconstructs the legend of this film that was passed down from the elders to the new Kuna generation, but never made it to the screen.

Gaisseau, a French explorer and filmmaker who won an Oscar in 1961 for the doc The Sky Above, the Mud Below, lived with the Kuna people on a Panamanian island for a year and filmed their most intimate ceremonies. He then promised to return with the film, but never did. He ran out of funding and a bank confiscated his reels, which Peyrot unearthed 50 years later.

God is a Woman, Andrés PeyrotFilms in the Venice Critics’ Week competition comprise About Last Year, a doc directed by Dunja Lavecchia, Beatrice Surano and Morena Terranova on cisgender women and the ballroom scene in the suburbs of Turin; U.K. writer-director Luna Carmoon’s debut feature Hoard, about the close bond between a mother and daughter; German documentary/fiction hybrid Life Is Not a Competition, but I’m Winning, centered around a collective of queer athletes and directed by Julia Fuhr Mann; and Taiwanese actor Lee Hong Chi’s directorial debut Love Is a Gun, a neo-noir about the vicissitudes of an ex-con named Sweet Potato.

Rounding off the section’s competition are Chilean filmmaker Tana Gilbert’s Malqueridas, a doc about women prisoners serving long sentences in a correctional facility in Chile that was made with footage shot by the women themselves using forbidden cellphones; “Sky Peals, a drama supported and financed by Film4 and directed by London-based Moin Hussain about a young man named Adam who works nights at a highway service station and starts to think he may descend from an alien race; and French first-time helmer Adrien Beau’s The Vourdalak, a tale of blood-thirsty vampires shot on 16mm film.

The out-of-competition closer is the genre film Vermin by France’s Sébastien Vaniček, in which swarming spiders “serve as a metaphor for the threat of neo-capitalism,” according to the press notes.

The 10 features in Venice Critics’ Week are all by first-time directors and all world premieres.

Describing her selection, Venice Critics’ Week general delegate Beatrice Fiorentino noted that “overall, there is a strong presence of women directors; a variety of new formats and ‘new’ ways of narrating nonfiction (a trend distinctly on the rise) and countless examples of genre cinema: noir, science fiction and horror.”

All Venice Critics’ Week entries will compete alongside titles in the official selection for the fest’s Lion of the Future prize, which is worth $100,000.

The Venice Film Festival’s official selection lineup will be announced on July 25. The 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival runs August 30-September 9.

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