Legendary filmmaker Tinto Brass is set to preside over the Queer Lion award jury panel at the Venice International Film Festival. Four gay films are in the running for the 2nd annual prize.

Brass, 75, best know in America for his erotic film Caligula and subsequent demand to have his name stricken from it, will have the difficult task of selecting which of the following four films is most deserving of the praise.

Director Yen Tan's Ciao is a powerful film that speaks about the strength of love. When a man dies, two men find each other as they correspond over the Internet to discuss their loss. Lives are altered forever when the pair continue their friendship.

AfterElton.com said Ciao was “the best gay movie I've seen all year.”

Two men remember a past romance in opposing views – joy and shame – in writer/director Gabriel Flemming's The Lost Coast. Mark and Jasper are in San Francisco's Castro district with their friend Lily. Mark's recollection of a high school romance with Jasper is one of joy, while Jasper can barely acknowledge it.

Israeli writer/directorYair Hochner's Antarctica seeks to thaw out the hearts of two lost souls. On his 30th birthday, Omer is drowning himself in work at the library. Shirley, Omer's little sister, is having an affair with her boss. Both seem to be locked in a perpetual cycle of unhappiness when Ronen, the handsome journalist, enters their lives. Will their frozen hearts thaw?

Esprit Es-Tu La, French director Philippe Vallois' latest film, will be a world premiere when screened in Venice on September 3rd. Here is the director's synopsis: “In the mid-nineties, a young writer, victim of AIDS, wants to ensure from the beyond that his friend receives a camera, with supernatural powers. He hopes that this will revive his friend's will to live, connect with him and look after the company he keeps.”

“What should filmmakers show and what should they not show? Each one has their own theory, modesty, ethics, bans. In my opinion a film, like any work of art, can help the artist to bring out the hidden part of his inner world, to affirm his real nature and not what society expects of him. And therefore, why oppose such a process? It cannot help but be a service to the public,” Vallois said.

The Queer Lion award is a golden winged lion, its wings painted in the colors of the gay flag. This year's winner will be announced September 5th in Venice.