French Rom-Com ‘Three Nights a Week,’ Set in Drag Queen World, to Open Venice Critics’ Week

Queer romantic comedy “Three Nights a Week,” set amid the Parisian drag queen scene, will open the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week which has unveiled its lineup of nine titles, all of which are world premiers.

The section’s out-of-competition opener is directed by Florent Gouëlou who, besides having a master’s degree in cinema from La Sorbonne, is also a committed drag queen who performs every month on the Flèche d’Or stage in Paris.

Touted as the first European film on the glittering world of drag queens, “Three Nights” is the tale of 29-year-old Baptiste who is in a heterosexual relationship when he meets Cookie Kunty, a young drag queen from the Parisian scene who immediately mesmerizes him. Initially motivated by the idea of a photography project revolving around Cookie, he immerses himself into this world, eventually embarking upon a relationship with Quentin, the young man behind the drag queen.

Films in the Venice Critics’ Week competition comprise Colombian director Theo Montoya’s “Anhell69,” a journey into Medellin’s hellish youth scene where a debuting film director must contend with his lead actor dying of a heroin overdose; “Beating Sun,” an ecological drama from France’s Philippe Petit about an idealistic landscape architect named Max hellbent on creating a wild garden without fences in the heart of downtown Marseille; and Swedish first-timer Isabella Carbonell’s “Dogborn,” about a pair of homeless young twins who are brother and sister and their struggle to survive.

Rounding off the competition are “Eismayer” from Austria’s David Wagner, about a closeted gay man who is a feared deputy lieutenant in the Austrian army; Serbian female empowerment drama “Have You Seen This Woman?” by Dušan Zorić and Matija Gluščević; “Margini,” a comedy about a Tuscan punk band with ambitions that clash with their reality; and German psychological thriller “Skin Deep” which revolves around the concept of gender identity.

The out-of-competition closer is Moroccan feminist road movie “Queens,” about three women on the run across the valleys and desert of Morocco towards Atlantic coast, directed by Yasmine Benkiran.

There will also be a special screening of cult Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s first feature, the 1989 black-and-white drama “Blood,” which is about the fate of two brothers after the death of their father, 33 years after this film debuted from the Venice Critics’ Week in 1989.

“We come from two difficult years marked by illness and fear,” said the section’s artistic director Beatrice Fiorentino in a statement.

“Two years of estrangement, isolation and forced distance; two years of darkness. Our reaction, and that of the nine films in this year’s program, lead in the opposite direction: towards (a possible) rebirth; towards light and color; friendship, love, open spaces, and community.”

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 26.

The 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 31-Sept. 10.