The world’s oldest film festival will go ahead on its originally scheduled dates in September. The decision to hold the Venice Film Festival is being hailed as a sign of hope for the film world after months of closed cinemas, shuttered movie sets and cancelled galas.
The rapid global spread of the coronavirus forced major production companies to halt filming, causing top silver-screen festivals to postpone or cancel their 2020 editions, including Venice’s historic rival Cannes, which is usually held in May. Mr. Alberto Barbera, director of the Venice Film Festival, is defiant in the face of the COVID-19 disease, insisting the 77th edition of the “Mostra” will take place from September 2 to 12.
As Italy exits its lockdown, organizers in the lagoon city are betting on a return to normalcy in the country by the end of the summer. The festival will need to adopt any social distancing rules that remain in effect.
“It will be a unique edition. We still don’t know exactly what we will be able to do, but in the meantime we are selecting the films and drawing up a plan to allow everyone to participate safely,” said Barbera.
Giorgio Gosetti, head of the Venice competition for innovative and original filmmaking, remarked that it is “as if we were starting over again from 1932, when the festival was founded. Everyone in the world of cinema feels that right now, the best place to celebrate, to show vitality, is the oldest festival in the world.”
Barbera has repeatedly ruled out the suggestion the prestigious event could be held online. Film experts are speculating whether the number of films shown, generally over 200, will be noticeably reduced or will actually increase, due to the postponement of the Cannes festival. It is, however, unlikely that familiar scenes of the Venice festival – throngs of paparazzi snapping photographs of A-listers on the red carpet and screaming crowds of fans will be a feature at this year’s event. Traditionally held on the Lido, Venice’s festival could include new spaces for film viewing this year. Some have suggested that the Arsenal Shipyards, which hosts the city’s famed art and architecture biennials, could be turned into cinemas, with a limited number of pre-booked viewers allowed inside. Regardless of the social distancing and crowd restrictions, the entire film industry has responded with gratitude to the Venice Film Festival Committee for providing a much-needed glimmer of light during what has been a dark time for the entertainment world.