by Rachele Callegari
Almost secular tradition and a moment awaited by the Venetians and not only, between the 1st and the 11th of September the Venice International Film Festival will be held in Venice, directed by Alberto Barbera. It was hosted for the first time in 1932, and is the oldest film festival and one of the most renowned to this day. It was created from the idea of the then president of the Biennale Giuseppe Volpi, the sculptor Antonio Maraini and Luciano de Feo, who was the first artistic director and selected the films in competition. The first edition was held on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior in Lido di Venezia, but it was not a competition, which took place from the second festival onwards. Although it was not a competition, films were presented that would become classics of cinema, for example “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ”by Rouben Mamoulian, was the first film ever screened.
Today, there are six competition categories for films: Venezia 78, Out of Competition, Orizzonti, Orizzonti Extra, Venezia Classici and Venice VR Expanded. Amongst these, the Orizzonti Extra section is the novelty for 2021: it is an extension of the section already dedicated to the new trends in world cinema. The difference is that it will have fewer constraints in terms of format and duration (as long as the films are longer than 60 minutes), but also of genre and destination; in addition, the films in this category will be accompanied by meetings with the authors and other personalities of interest.
In addition to the prizes for the films in competition, two other important awards awarded each year are the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement: the first dedicated to a director who, thanks to his work, has significantly influenced the development of cinema; the second dedicated to an actor who was able to best interpret the expressive needs of the directorswith whom he collaborated.
Discovering Venice just through the 5 senses
“Ten winters”, a 2009 film, stars Silvestro and Camilla, two youngsters who meet by chance aboard a vaporetto in Venice. Thanks to a quick glance, a ten-year long adventure begins for them, which sometimes sees them close, sometimes very far away. In fact, the film runs in a double setting: on the one hand Moscow, where Camilla is a student of Slavic Studies and Russian Theater, on the other Venice. Two opposite poles that represent the ambivalence of the feelings of the two youngsters, who go from being madly in love to being enemies. The director himself, Valerio Mieli, defined the film as an “anti-love at first sight” film, almost as if to say that that the glance exchanged in Venice was fatal for the love affair of the two.
A film from 1970, “Anonimo Veneziano” stars Enrico, an oboist from the La Fenice theater, who discovers he is ill with an incurable tumor. He then decides to invite his wife with whom he has been separated for years to Venice, who, albeit with reluctance, then accepts. The core of the film tells of the long day the two spend together, walking through an unusually silent and decadent Venice and painfully discovering that they still love each other. At the end of the film, which coincides with the end of the day, the protagonist, aware that he will never see his wife again, conducts an orchestra of students in a concert by an anonymous Venetian composer: a concert that thus becomes the soundtrack of the finale.
PANE E TULIPANI
Set in modern-day Venice, “Pane e Tulipani” tells the story of Rosalba, a housewife from Pescara with an unfaithful husband, who unexpectedly arrives in Venice due to an incredible series of events. Here she meets Fernando, an Icelandic waiter with an almost encyclopedic Italian, who hosts her at his house and falls in love with her, he reveals this only at the end of the film. Meanwhile, the husband, annoyed by Rosalba’s absence, sends his lover to Venice to convince his wife to return home, albeit with a false pretext. The title of the film derives from the fact that every morning Fernando leaves Rosalba breakfast, including a plate with a large slice of bread; while she brings him a bouquet of flowers every evening.
THE FORNARETTO OF VENICE
A film from 1939, “Il fornaretto di Venezia” is inspired by a popular legend of the city. The protagonist is Piero Tasca, son of a baker in Venice, unjustly accused of the murder of the nobleman Alvise Duodo. One morning, during a bread delivery, the young man finds the corpse of the noble lying on the street: from that moment a series of misfortunes will begin for him that will lead him to a death sentence. Indeed, the crowd gathered around the count’s body, attracted by the scent of freshly baked bread, indicate the young man as the only culprit and the truth will emerge only after his execution. The story has been analyzed several times to understand if it really happened, but to date there are no historical leads.
EYES WIDE SHUT
Stanley Kubrik’s masterpiece, set in New York, “Eyes Wide Shut” was presented as the opening film at the 56th Venice International Film Festival in 1999. Although not set in the lagoon city, it nevertheless has a hidden link with Venice: in fact, the masks used by the protagonist during the party that is the culmination of the film, were made by the Atelier Kartaruga in Venice. Producer Jan Harlan chose them on the advice of the film’s costume designer, who had admired similar ones in Camden Town in London, in a shop which stocked items by the Venetian atelier. Indeed, a documentary was produced (The Masks of Eyes Wide Shut) telling the story of the masks in the film.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Disagreements between actors are common: the most striking was that between Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, who stormed out of the Festival in 1958 after her “enemy” had won the festival with “Black Orchid”.