fbpx

The Venice Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival

It’s that time of year again: the Venice Film Festival, running from 27 August to 6 September.

Did you know that the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world? It was first held back in 1932 (the first film shown was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and has run every year since. Originally, the event was fairly private, but these days – this year is the 71st festival – the ‘Mostra’ is quite a show, attracting filmmakers, actors and critics from around the globe, not to mention an army of film fans.

Many of the screenings are held at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi in the Lido, and in the vicinity onlookers are treated to the spectacle of celebrities arriving by the boatful on the waterways (and if you’re a Hollywood actress, attempting to step off a water taxi in six-inch heels and a breath-pinching dress is no mean feat!). The city is the perfect atmospheric backdrop to ramp up the grandeur and drama of the proceedings; as film critic Mick LaSalle recently said of the festival:

The city is so arresting, so different from anywhere else, that it upstages the stars.  So for once it’s not like they are supplying the aura.  It’s more like they’re participating it.  Just about every year I end up riding in a boat with some movie star or director, and they do what everybody else does.  They stand on the deck and take pictures.

The festival is well-respected as a showcase for work, and its awards are prestigious and coveted. The symbol of the central awards, the Lions, is the winged lion of St. Mark from the flag of the Venetian Republic. The main awards are as follows, with example past winners included in parenthesis:

  • Golden Lion – best film screened at the festival (Brokeback Mountain, 2005)
  • Silver Lion – best director (Peter Jackson; Heavenly Creatures; 1994)
  • VolpiCup – best actor and actress (Colin Firth; actor; A Single Man; 2009)
  • Special Jury Prize –overall work of a director or actor (Elia Kazan; director; A Streetcar Named Desire; 1951)

There are also prizes for technical contribution, screenplay, set design and music.

‘Juries’ are put together to vote on those films competing for awards. The members are wide ranging in terms of specialisms and nationalities. This year, the main competition will be judged by:

  • Alexandre Desplat: French composer (President of Jury)
  • Carlo Verdone: Italian actor and director
  • Elia Suleiman: Palestinian director
  • Jessica Hausner: Austrian director
  • JhumpaLahiri: Indian novelist
  • Joan Chen: Chinese actress and director
  • Philip Groning: German director
  • Sandy Powell: English costume designer
  • Tim Roth: British actor

Competing films are taken from all over the world. This year, for example, the list of films in the competition herald from United States, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Japan, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China, Turkey, Iran, Germany, Russia, Canada, Poland, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia and the UK.

In addition to those films competing for awards, the festival showcases other films that fit with the overarching Venice Biennale theme and are to be honoured for their contribution to world cinema. The festival has a reputation for being daring and controversial in its choice of films: in 1988, for example, it showed Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, so scandalising Italian director Franco Zeffirelli that he pulled his latest film from the programme; and in 1999 it premiered Stanley Kubric’s last work, Eyes Wide Shut, which was critically acclaimed but somewhat provoking for its graphic sexual content.

As well as recent films there is a Classics section; this year it includes such gems as the 1968 French romantic comedy Baisersvolés (Stolen Kisses); Roman Polanski’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) and one of my favourite films for its feel-good factor: the 1955 Guys and Dolls starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

If you’d like to keep up to date on the festival this year and read reviews of the competing films, keep an eye on the following: http://www.theguardian.com/film/venicefilmfestival; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/venice-film-festival.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email