A modified Venice Film Festival to take place outdoors and online
The Venice International Film Festival will go ahead on September 2, but with a number of modifications as a result of the pandemic.
Organisers confirmed on Tuesday that the festival’s 77th instalment will include a slightly reduced number of films in the main competition, as well as some outdoor and virtual screenings.
If plans remain as currently scheduled, this will be the first major film festival to go ahead since Covid-19 effectively shut down the industry in mid-March.
Festival director Alberto Barbera said in a statement that he is “extremely pleased that the Biennale Cinema can be held with a minimum reduction of films and sections”. He said that “a significant number of directors and actors will accompany films to the Lido”.
There will still be 50 to 55 films in the official selection, set to be announced on Tuesday, July 28, and screenings will take place in the traditional venues as well as at two outdoor arenas (the Giardini della Biennale and a skating rink on the Lido), with safety measures in place.
The festival will take its Virtual Reality section online this year and forego its Sconfini section, which hosts smaller films and genres, to accommodate more socially distanced screenings of the major films in the competition. Actress Cate Blanchett is presiding over the main competition jury.
Travel to Italy, an early epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, is currently allowed from European countries. The European Union last week said it would reopen its border to 14 nations, but most Americans have been refused entry because of the soaring number of coronavirus infections in the US. Countries with travel restrictions will be able to view press conferences virtually, Barbera said.
“Without forgetting the countless victims of these past few months, to whom due tribute shall be paid, the first international festival following the forced interruption dictated by the pandemic becomes the meaningful celebration of the reopening we all looked forward to, and a message of concrete optimism for the entire world of cinema, which has suffered greatly from this crisis.”
The Toronto International Film Festival, which is typically held on the heels of Venice in September, has already announced plans for a smaller 2020 version, with fewer films and virtual red carpets.
Both festivals serve as major launching grounds for awards hopefuls, although with the Oscars entry time frame extended by two months, it is unclear how things will work this year.
The festival will take its Virtual Reality section online and forego its Sconfini section of smaller films to accommodate more socially distanced screenings of major titles
‘Joker’ director Todd Phillips with the film’s star, Joaquin Phoenix, at last year’s Venice International Film Festival