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  • The First Exposition of Cinematic Art, later to be known as the Venice Intl. Film Festival, opens Aug. 6 at the Lido’s Excelsior Hotel under the auspices of Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata; sculptor Antonio Maraini; and the fest’s first director, Luciano de Feo.


  • Mussolini decides to make the Lido festival a permanent fixture, creating the Mussolini Cup for for-eign and Italian film.


  • The building of the Palazzo del Cinema signals the beginning of the festival’s fascist era, which lasts five years.


  • France gets ready to launch a film festival on the Riviera to rival Venice and sets Sept. 1 for its launch (just one day after Venice’s), but cancels when Hitler invades Poland.


  • The festival goes dark during the blackest years of World War II.


  • The festival re-opens in September across the lagoon in St. Marks, after the Allies’ requisition of the Palazzo del Cinema.

  • Venice’s snub of the French by not awarding Jean Renoir’s “La grande Illusion” the top prize a year earlier inspires France to return the favor: The Cannes Intl. Film Festival is born. Protesting fascism, Hollywood boycotts Venice and sends its top talent to the Riviera.


  • The courtyard of Venice’s Ducal Palace hosts the fest, which boasts a record attendance of 90,000. Films from the USSR return to the event. The fest is also the first to screen works from the new “popular democracies” such as Czechoslovakia, which takes the top prize with “Sirena.”


  • The fest returns permanently to the Lido’s Palazzo del Cinema. The Golden Lion of St. Marks for best film is first introduced, replacing the Mussolini Cup.


  • Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” nabs the Golden Lion and introduces Western audiences to Japanese cinema.


  • Venice’s favorite sport — festival director musical chairs — kicks off. Antonio Petrucci exits (1949-53) and is replaced by Ottavio Croze (1954-55), who is replaced by Floris Ammannati (1956-59), followed by Emilio Lonero (1960-62).


  • Scandal hits the Lido: Gina Lollobrigida enters the Sala Grande for the screening of “La Romana” with her clothes in tatters, thanks to a new festival phenomenon: rabid movie fans.


  • The French May protests hit Venice. Five days before its opening, an alliance of directors protesting the festival as an institution yank their movies from the lineup. The police garrison the Palazzo del Cinema on Aug. 24 and the Aug. 25 opening is cancelled. Fevered meetings between both sides result in democratic self-management for the festival, with fest director Luigi Chiarini as chairman. The fest reopens Aug. 27 but crowds continue to protest against a fascist and bourgeois festival.

  • Chiarini abolishes all award giving, an edict that lasts a full decade. Dinner jackets also are banned.


  • John Ford, Ingmar Bergman and Marcel Carne become the first recipients of Venice’s Golden Lion for Career Achievement.

  • After Chiarini’s dismissal, Luigi Rondi steps in as director.


  • The festival is suspended, and in its place the Days of Italian Cinema is organized by special interest groups. The event re-opens the following year.


  • Competitive awards return to Venice, and Louis Malle and John Cassavetes receive Golden Lions.


  • The screening of Martin Scorsese’s “Last Temptation of Christ” incites virulent protests. The police react by surrounding the Palazzo.


  • Pedro Almodovar gets wider recognition with the Lido’s screening of “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”


  • The festival turns 50. Newly appointed fest director Gillo Pontecorvo keeps his vow to return great filmmakers to the Lido by founding the World Union of Auteurs and welcoming the world’s largest group of top directors to Venice. During his reign, Pontecorvo reanimates the festival with rock concerts and his Notte sections, which lure Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks and other stars to the lagoon.

  • Steven Spielberg is mobbed outside the Hotel Des Bain when he makes a Venice pit stop to receive a Golden Lion for ca-reer achievement, as well as a golden dinosaur egg for his out-of-competition entry “Jurassic Park.”


  • Critics rail against Roman Polanski and his competition jury for awarding the Volpi Cup for actress to a 4-year-old, Victoire Thivisol, for her performance in “Ponette.”

  • Festival director musical chairs, Part II: Pontecorvo exits and is replaced by Felice Laudadio (1997-1998), who is replaced by Alberto Barbera (1999-2001), who is replaced by Moritz de Hadeln (2002-?).


  • Screening of “Run Lola Run” triggers the German film’s conquest of U.S. arthouses as well as direc-tor Tom Tykwer’s rise in Hollywood.


  • Hana Makhmalbaf, a 14-year-old Iranian girl, becomes the youngest director in Venice’s history to compete for an award (best first feature) with her entry “Joy of Madness.”

  • Woody Allen finally visits his favorite film festival. He opens the Mostra with “Anything Else.”