Women play a big role in the 69th Venice International Film Festival which kicked off on August 29 and will run at the Venice Lido until September 8, writes Ilaria Bettinelli.
Directed by Alberto Barbera and organised by La Biennale di Venezia, this year the festival is again attracting a multitude of film lovers, connoisseurs, amateurs and, of course, international celebrities. As in previous years, this festival is proving a magnet for the glitterati.
In Venice this week you can rub shoulders with fashion icons (Laetitia Casta on the jury, Kasia Smutniak’s godmother); screen giants (Robert Redford and Gerard Depardieu); (ex) teen stars who want to show in Venice, as in Cannes, they have become big (Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez); sex symbols (Javier Bardem, Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck); and names that recall past great success at the box office (like Shia LaBeouf and Noomi Rapace, known to most people for Transformers and Millennium).
But celebrities are not the festival’s main focus: this festival’s leading protagonist is the film in all its forms, from the international competition of feature films – presented as world premieres- to new trends in world cinema and special screenings.
Paolo Baratta, president of La Biennale di Venezia, opened the 69th season which celebrates the 80th birthday of the Venice Film Festival.
“There is the commitment of an octogenarian who wants to demonstrate its youth; confidence in the cinema as art, faith in cinema as an industry,” Mr Baratta said.
This is evidenced in this festival’s strong disposition towards a revolutionary flavour.
With women directing 21 of the 52 films being shown at this year’s Venice film festival, women stand to finally grab the international recognition of their contribution to cinema that they deserve.
The festival opened with The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mira Nair and four of the 18 films vying for the Golden Lion award are directed by women — in opposition to the Cannes festival where no women were in the running. The four women in competition in Venice are Francesca Comencini (Un giorno speciale), Rama Burshtein (Fill the void), Jessica Woodworth as co-director (La cinquieme saison) and Valeria Sarmiento (Linhas de Wellington).
“I think it’s a sign of the times. Cinema for over a century was a very male-dominated environment. Finally, even cinema has realised that there is female creativity,” festival director Alberto Barbera said.
The Venice international Film Festival is not the only event organised by La Biennale during this period: what essentially stands out is not only cinema but also music, theatre and architecture.
In an arts event of almost-Olympic proportions, La Biennale di Venezia also presents the acclaimed International Art Exhibition and the International Architecture Exhibition. It also continues the great tradition of the Festival of Contemporary Music and of the International Theatre Festival, flanked in the last ten years by the Festival of Contemporary Dance.
Venice is again showcasing a great mix of people, enthusiasm and the continuous flourishing of smart arts.