Venice Film Festival shows staying power

Cinema extravaganza kicks off 70th edition

Venice Film Festival shows staying power

(By Kate Carlisle) Venice, August 27 - The director of Venice's 70th International Film Festival, which opens Wednesday, is determined to show that despite variations in attendance and the proliferation of smaller events, the lifespan of the world's oldest cinema extravaganza has not come to an end. "With a touch of pride it can be claimed that, while this year's Venice Film Festival might not provide any answers, it does supply a few indications as to why festivals are still necessary and how they can adapt themselves to this new situation," said Alberto Barbera. According to the director, who is making his debut at the helm this year, there is a "certain widespread impatience with contemporary cinema and with what, until a short while ago, had been considered invaluable opportunities for promoting new movies and meeting new filmmakers". "It's a changing world. Festivals are both more and less powerful than they used to be. More powerful because they come across like the new museum and art gallery curators. Less powerful because the exclusiveness of participating at festivals has been weakened by new, direct channels of distribution," Barbera says. Taking place on the Lido di Venezia, the festival runs from August 28 to September 7 and organized by the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta. The Festival's four sections - Competition, Out of Competition, Orizzonti (Horizons) and Venezia Classici (Venice Classics) - are varied. The sections are "like a snapshot of the present state of contemporary cinema," Barbera says. Established filmmakers will be present alongside debut directors, and so-called genre films and documentaries will be screened during the festival's 11 days. The festival kicks off with a screening of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity followed by Venice 70 - Future Reloaded, a collective film made up of 70 minute-long shorts by directors from around the world. The screening lineup includes A Promise (Une promesse) by French director Patrice Leconte. Screening out of competition for its worldwide premiere, A Promise is based on a short story by Stefan Zweig and is set in pre-World War I Germany. It tells the story of the wife of a wealthy and powerful industrialist who falls in love with her husband's younger colleague. The program also includes three new documentaries. These are Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater by Gabe Klinger (Venice Classics); Women in Myth: Anna Magnani by Marco Spagnoli (Venice Classics); From Our Correspondents - RAI narrates the Venice Festival 1980-1989 by Enrico Salvatori, Giuseppe Giannotti, and Davide Savelli (Out of Competition). On September 6, a one-day tribute to iconic filmmaker Federico Fellini will feature Gideon Bachmann's 'Behind the Scenes of 8 and 1/2', made up of 170 snapshots he took during the making of the late Fellini's masterpiece (Out of Competition - Special Events), and the world premiere of Ettore Scola's new film How Strange To Be Called Federico (Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico). Historic films will also weigh in. A digitally restored version of Francesco Rosi's masterpiece, 'Le Mani sulla Città' (Hands over the City, 1963), will be screened as a world premiere at the pre-opening event on Tuesday. The film received the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1963 and is a pillar in the history of Italian cinema as an exposé of the relationship between politics and economic power in the city of Naples, devastated by building speculation. Actress Carrie Fisher is joining the competition jury, and Mexican director Amat Escalante is to sit on the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film jury. Bernardo Bertolucci, the director whose 1972 Last Tango In Paris was banned in Italy for obscenity and is considered one of the most controversial films ever made, was selected as president of the jury. Though he has never screened a film in the festival, it will not be the first time Bertolucci presides over the Venice jury, following a stint in 1983. A day-by-day calendar is available online at

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