Scaled-down Venice film festival hopes to shake off virus gloom


VENICE: Sculptures of lions decorate the entrance hall of Palazzo del Casino near the festival palace on Tuesday. The 77th Venice Film Festival is due to open today (Wednesday).—AFP
VENICE: Sculptures of lions decorate the entrance hall of Palazzo del Casino near the festival palace on Tuesday. The 77th Venice Film Festival is due to open today (Wednesday).—AFP

VENICE: Fewer Hollywood stars will grace the red carpet and there will be no fans clamouring for autographs.

But for all the Covid-19 restrictions, director Alberto Barbera says the very fact that the Venice film festival is going ahead in front of live audiences this week sends a positive message.

“We think that it’s time to restart for cinema,” Barbera said on the eve of the festival, which runs from Sept 2-12 and is now in its 77th year.

“We need to reopen the theatres. We need to distribute new films. We need to start shooting new films again and I hope that the festival will be a sign of solidarity and encouragement for everybody involved with the film industry.”

The world’s oldest film festival, regarded as a showcase for Oscar contenders as awards season approaches, is the first such international event to take place since the movie world ground to a halt due to the pandemic. The world’s biggest — Cannes film festival — was cancelled.

With coronavirus cases rising again in Italy and elsewhere, a strict safety protocol has been put in place.

Anyone attending from outside Europe’s Schengen area will have to test for Covid-19 before departure and once on the Lido, the long, narrow island in the Venetian Lagoon where the annual festival is held.

Temperatures will be checked and every second seat in the cinemas will be left empty. Seats will have to be reserved online, audiences will be required to wear a face mask and fans will not be allowed near the red carpet.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2020


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