ROME — Director Alberto Barbera plans to radically redefine the 58th Venice Intl. Film Festival in an attempt to make it more democratic by reducing the number of principal sections to two, both competitive.
He will twin Venice’s traditional competition for established auteurs with a second competition for emerging talent, expanded from the fest’s existing Cinema of the Present section, Barbera told Daily Variety.
“What I want to avoid is the sense of an A-grade and a B-grade competition,” Barbera said. “The two competitions are complementary and of equal importance.”
Italian media in particular have tended to concentrate coverage solely on competition entries and major U.S. pics, resulting in underexposure for many discoveries at Venice, which this year runs Aug. 29-Sept. 8.
Good ones in shadow
Critically lauded pics such as “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Memento,” “Being John Malkovich,” “The Last Resort,” “Beau Travail” and “Pollock” did not get the press attention some thought they deserved at Venice because they screened out of competition.
The traditional competition consisting of 18-20 features will be known as Venezia 58, taking the number of each year’s respective fest edition. The Golden Lion will remain the top honor, awarded by a jury of filmmakers, actors and critics. A separate jury of international film publication pundits will award the Lion of the Year plus $100,000 cash in the Cinema of the Present competition, which will slot about 25 films.
A third jury will award the Lion of the Future in Venice’s equivalent of the Cannes fest’s Camera d’Or, to first features taken from each section. The Corto-Cortissimo international short film competition remains unchanged.
Up to 10 films will screen out of competition in the official selection, maintaining a key position for the U.S. studio entries that favor a Venice launch but shun a competitive slot. Already locked in to make its European bow on the Lido is Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” from Warner.
Barbera has scrapped the fest’s midnight lineup and will schedule late-night screenings of a few films that lend themselves to the slot.
Fest’s New Territories section, devoted to cutting-edge cinema, experimental work, video, digital production and other nonstandard formats, will be programmed by selection committee member Roberto Turigliatto. Also programmed independently, the Intl. Critics Week will continue unchanged.