Here we are! September 2, the ribbon-cutting day of the International Film Festival La Biennale di Venezia 2020, edition n. 77, is now very close. The first true international event in the era of Covid 19, which will have to deal with a changed world, with new rules that reject crowds and human contact, crowded cinemas and warm embraces. Eyes on the lagoon kermesse, therefore, which will have the not easy role of forerunner for such important events in this epoch-making historical period.

Strongly desired by the La Biennale foundation with its new president Roberto Cicutto for whom it was necessary to give "an important signal, without forgetting the victims" that the pandemic has caused in Italy and the world, and by its curator Alberto Barbera who expressed himself as follows during the online press conference of the presentation of the Festival: "The winter of our bewilderment has turned into a spring of anguish, and then slowly slipped into a summer marked by uncertainty and fear for a restless future. We are left with the many victims of the pandemic that no one can and wants to forget, and the worries about a restart that is hard to materialize. In this context, the decision to hold the 77th edition of the Venice Film Festival is seen as a sign of trust and concrete support from the world of cinema and the audiovisual industry that has been hard hit by the spread of the virus and its dramatic consequences. [...] Thousands of jobs at risk, an impressive number of families suspended in the uncertainty of the recovery, in a sector that is certainly not secondary for the world culture and economy. [...] It is therefore with a great sense of responsibility and commitment that we faced an unknown and unprecedented situation, in which the rules of the game were constantly changing, forcing us to be very flexible and available and continuous corrections of course. The Exhibition will be held on the scheduled dates, at the price of some renunciation but also strong of innovations favored by the opportunities that circumstances have made possible. [...] Even so we react to the terrible difficulties generated by an unexpected and almost unprecedented health crisis, laying the foundations to rebuild what was lost on the road or risked being destroyed, in the confidence that sooner or later "the meadows will return"".

An edition that even before beginning seems to have already written a page of history.

The promotion of the Festival is entrusted to a television commercial for the Rai channels, which is cinema itself, a child of time just lived and an invitation to overcome storms, but also a tribute to the courage of cinema and of those who have stubbornly managed to organize an event of such appeal in such a difficult moment. The words of the narrating voice, the actor Giancarlo Giannini, were significant: "In the beginning there was the storm that made us dream lions, and lose ourselves in our deepest fears. Then the battle. We are made to live and conquer our fears, thunders the sailor with the rhythm of a drum in his heart. We can be destroyed but not defeated. The shipwrecked in pieces in the shadow of the Sestieri. Here where the echo of lightning gives light to hope, here on the sea where we overcome storms by force: the strength of the cinema".

Let's start again from the cinema. Let's start again from art.

Here is the video of the commercial.

Here is what this Biennale of Cinema 2020 will be like

But what exhibition will this Venice 77 be? 

Surely what awaits us will be a kermesse reduced in number of screenings and the presence of stars who have always animated the red carpet of the Palazzo del Cinema del Lido, amplifying the charm of an exhibition that has always been characterized by glamour and elegance. This decision was dictated by the long lockdown that has united the entire world, stopping all activities, even the magnificent and imaginative one of cinema. 

However, the cinema that will arrive at the Lido will be represented by 62 titles that, though missing from Hollywood giants, are a symptom of a vitality of the sector, which has been able to reinvent itself and give an extraordinary response even in extreme conditions such as those of a pandemic.

There are two keys to understanding this Venice 77: auteur cinema, we could say almost arthouse cinema, and the conspicuous presence of 70 participating countries! More international than that!

An equally wide program that foresees the presence of different genres for different perspectives for the themes that will be narrated, a clear sign that the Festival wants to represent the richness and variety of cinema. Therefore, the auteur films will be flanked by comedies, documentaries, horror films, gangster movies, and the presentation of some TV series, which in recent years are a permanent presence in Laguna. 

A review full of novelties, which puts important emphasis on the generational change that world cinema has been experiencing in recent years: the presence of many young directors and many debut films is a key to bring new ideas and a fresh language capable of reaching a much wider audience. 

Another strong change in this Venice 77 comes from the incredible presence of films directed by women, almost half of the total number of screenings scheduled, compared to past editions in which "the female component was relegated to embarrassing percentages" [cit. Alberto Barbera]. This is certainly an important signal, but I am sorry to have to present it as exceptional news, because it would be right that in 2020 the female presence behind the camera is not seen as an extraordinary factor, but as a simple normality. Barbera said that these "female films" were "selected exclusively on the basis of quality criteria and not as a result of gender protocols: an unprecedented percentage that we trust bodes well for a future of cinema free from prejudice and discrimination of any kind". We hope. 

The lack of American productions, of those titles that were presented in Venice and then crowded the Oscar night nominations, seems to be making itself felt and also implies the absence of big names, among directors and actors, regulars of the lagoon event. While some of the protagonists of the films in the program are unable to reach the Lido due to the blockades that still limit the freedom of intercontinental travel: and this is why the Venice Film Festival has ensured, using the most sophisticated technologies, the presence of "red carpet online" in order to ensure the most correct promotion of the films and make the participating audience feel their presence. A technological and multimedia Venice 77 that promises to make us dream as always, it will be enough just to adapt to a modern and very contemporary language that will make us live a completely new experience.

The most interesting novelty of this 2020 Venice Film Festival is the exceptional sharing of the screening of the film that will open the exhibition: Lacci by Daniele Lucchetti  will in fact be screened simultaneously in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido in all the Italian cinemas that will have joined the initiative, together with the Opening Ceremony. Truly a beautiful idea, a gesture of great solidarity and "a strong and extraordinary signal - as Mario Lorini, president of the National Association of Cinema Exhibitors, points out - in such a difficult moment for the restart of the film industry, a contribution of great solidarity for the dramatic situation in which cinemas are facing, in Italy as in the rest of the world, due to the health emergency" and a way to convey the fascination and emotion of the Festival throughout Italy, and to involve fans who do not have the opportunity to reach the screening rooms of the Lido.

It was undoubtedly difficult to set up the complex organizational machine that is the Venice Film Festival, especially because of the difficulties added and imposed by the current situation. A great effort that La Biennale wanted to face to support the film industry that has been hard hit in recent months. But it will certainly not be these new rules, this new way of seeing cinema that will take away the fascination of the Venice Film Festival, which will remain for this strange 2020 an event capable of making people dream, fascinate and fascinate us also thanks to its incredible setting, Venice, the best scenography you could ever wish for, a cinematic dream itself.

The most expected names and titles

The films scheduled for this 2020 Venice Film Festival will, as always, be divided into the various sections: Venice 77, Out of Competition, Orizzonti, Biennale College - Cinema

Four international juries will award the prizes. For the main competition, Venice 77, the president will be Cate Blanchett, international actress and one of the iconic interpreters of modern cinema, already twice Oscar-winning for her performances in The Aviator and Blue Jasmine. In her work here in Venice she will be joined by Veronika Franz, Joanna Hogg, Nicola Lagioia, Christian Petzold, Cristi Puiu, Ludivine Sagnier and Matt Dillon. Claire Denis will chair the jury of the Orizzonti section, together with Oskar Alegria, Francesca Comencini, Katriel Schory, Christine Vachon. The jury of the Premio Venezia Opera Prima "Luigi DeLaurentis" will be chaired by Claudio Veronesi, accompanied by Remi Bonhomme and Dora Bouchooicha, while for Venezia Virtual Reality the president Cecile Tricart will work together with Asif Kapadia and Hideo Kojma

Already awarded the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement: the award, the seal of an intense career and an important contribution to the art of world cinema, will go to the Chinese director Ann Hui, a pivotal figure of Hong Kong New Wave, the film movement that has revolutionized Hong Kong cinema and made the city one of the most lively creative centers, and to the actress Tilda Swinton, one of the most versatile and eccentric actors that modern cinema knows, capable of creating intense and original characters. 

As anticipated, the opening film will be an all-Italian production: it is Lacci by Daniele Lucchetti, in which a Naples of the 80s is the backdrop to an intense journey through the various facets of love, divided between fidelity and betrayal, between dignity and discomfort, resentment and forgiveness. Really exceptional the cast, among which Alba Rohrwacher, Luigi Lo Cascio, Silvio Orlando, Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Laura Morante. To close the festival will be an Italian film, Venetian in a way: Lasciami andare by Stefano Mordini with Stefano Accorsi and Valeria Golino, shot in Venice. Both these films are out of competition. 

Among those competing for the Golden Lion, the highly anticipated Le sorelle Malacuso by Emma Dante, Notturno by Gianfraco Rosi, which promises to be a punch in the stomach as it tackles the delicate issue of war conflicts, and above all of what has afflicted Syria for years, which lead to the devastation if not the annulment of the individuals who are unwitting victims. Claudio Noce in his Padrenostro tells us about terrorism in the 1970s with the extraordinary Pierfrancesco Favino, while Susanna Nicchiarelli introduces us to Eleanor, Karl Marx's youngest daughter, in her Miss Marx. Among the winners could be Nomadland, an intense journey into the world of the new nomads, by Chloe Zhao, the political film about the workers' struggles Dear Comrades by Andrei Konchalovski and Wife of a Sky by the great Kiyoshi Kurosawa set during the Second World War. 

There will also be many documentaries, and many are very much anticipated. It starts with Molecole by the Venetian Andrea Segre, entirely shot in Venice during the long lockdown period. Then the already discussed Greta by Nathan Grossman, a bio-pic about the very young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who travels the world trying to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the planet. Then it will be the turn of three documentaries that outline the portrait of three extraordinary Italian characters who have had a worldwide resonance with their work: Salvatore. Shoemaker of dreams, a tribute by Luca Guadagnino to the designer Salvatore Ferragamo, Paolo Conte. Via con me in which Giorgio Verdelli will introduce us to the singer-songwriter Paolo Conte in a new light, finally with La verità su La dolce vita we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the famous film and especially the centenary of the birth of the incredible director Federico Fellini, directed by Giuseppe Pedersoli

In the Orizzonti section, the directorial debut of the young Pietro Castellitto, son of the famous actor Sergio and the writer Margaret Mazzantini, stands out. With his I predatori (Predators) he will dig inside two families apparently very distant from each other, cultured and bourgeois one, proletarian and fascist the other, who share the same city, Rome, seen as a jungle in which we are all predators.

We just have to sit in the room and enjoy this incredible show!

Anti Covid regulations for this Biennale Cinema 2020

We have said it and we repeat it: Covid 19 is the unwanted spectator of this Venezia 77, which has conditioned choices and organizations, and imposed absolutely extraordinary security measures "rigorously applied to ensure that all participants, teams, accredited and public, can be active part of the event in peace and without running any risk". As it should be.

The Venice International Film Festival will be held from September 2 to 12, 2020.

But let's see what are these new rules to be able to participate in the Exhibition in total safety.

  • Reservations required to attend the screenings

All types of tickets, single or season tickets, can be purchased exclusively online. Click here.

  • Social distance in the halls

The reduction in the number of participants was necessary in order to be able to show the same film in several theaters at the same time. The need for simultaneous screenings stems from the obligation to reduce the number of spectators in each single theater, and to keep the distance at least 1 meter. This distance must also be maintained for people belonging to the same family. The films, therefore, will not only be screened in the halls of the Palazzo del Cinema (Sala Grande, Sala Darsena, Pala Biennale, Sala Giardino, Sala Astra), but also in other cinemas on the Lido, Venice and Mestre. Specifically:

Venice Lido

   - New Arena Lido, Via Sandro Gallo

Venice historical center

   - New Arena Giardini della Biennale

   - Rossini Multiplex, Ascent of the Theatre 3997, San Marco

Venice Mestre

   - IMG Cinemas Candiani, Via Luigi Einaudi 7

  • Body temperature control

The entire area around the Palazzo del Cinema is defined as the "red zone", to access it it will be necessary to pass through 9 gates, all of which will be subjected to mechanical temperature measurement. Access will not be allowed if the temperature exceeds 37.5 degrees. The same control systems will be placed at the entrances of all the cinemas.

  • Obligatory masks, sanitization and sanitation

In every area covered by the Exhibition and in all the halls it will be obligatory to wear the mask correctly at all times, both outdoors and during any rows, both while you are accompanied to your seat in the hall and during the entire time of the screening. Liquid sanitizers and sanitizing products will be made available to the public in all areas, both outdoor and indoor.

  • Social distance on the Red Carpet, for the public and for all activities

The red carpet will be there, as per tradition, but it will be managed by a strict security protocol and a constant social distancing that will also affect the grandstands, the photocall with the distancing of the photographers. Great absentee will be the audience that will not be able to attend the arrival of stars and protagonists, in order to avoid any kind of gathering, both on site and to reach the red carpet. The social distancing will also affect all other activities related to the exhibition, such as meetings, conferences and interviews.

  • Presence in the area of health authorities

Constant presence, as for all the editions, will be the medical station with First Aid points available to guests and public.

  • Monitoring of the origin and tracking of all participants

All participants will be subject to origin tracking. All guests and accredited participants will be required to take a swab 72 hours before their arrival in Venice to prove their negativity to the virus. A second swab will be carried out on site by the Biennale, in order to make these days of the exhibition as safe as possible for everyone!

It won't be an easy Festival, but as President Cicutto made clear, "Our first concern is to put everyone who will be at the Lido in a position to experience the festival in complete safety. The implementation of all necessary measures, in collaboration with the authorities, is our main duty and task. But even more important will be the sense of responsibility of those who will follow us from 2 to 12 September respecting the rules with conscience, patience and with the awareness of participating in something very important not only for the success of the Festival".

"Happy Exhibition to all and long live the cinema!", Alberto Barbera