Barbera to slim down Venice lineup

Fest topper plans to upgrade informal market

ROME — The Venice Film Festival, in its first moves under new artistic director Alberto Barbera, plans to slim down its next edition, upgrade its informal market and expedite works for more functional facilities.

Parent org, the Venice Biennale, headed by Paolo Baratta, has also approved the new Biennale College-Cinema, a year-long film workshop where young helmers can make low-budget films for online distribution.

As for the lineup, Barbera, appointed in December, is limiting the Competition section to 20 titles at most, with no more than 11 pics playing out-of-competish, including no more then three in the midnight slot. Special Events have been scrapped.

The idea is to give each fest entry more visibility.

The biggest changes concern the cutting-edge Horizons section, which is nixing multi-format works and concentrating on features and shorts, making its link to the contempo art world tenuous.

Barbera unveiled his new selection committee, reconfirming respected programmer Giulia d’Agnolo Vallan as Venice’s U.S. rep.

As for the Lido’s market ambitions, a new “light market” is being launched as a first step toward creating an actual formal mart once facilities are in place. This seems unrealistic given that Venice overlaps with the much bigger Toronto fest, where a lot of sales go down.

The Biennale is working closely with Venice authorities on building a smaller structure as an alternative to the formerly planned Palazzo del Cinema; but it’s not clear when this new venue will be in place.

Existing facilities will be renovated, including the Hotel Excelsior, which will start work in October. The Excelsior makeover will be done in several steps so as not to deprive the fest of its facilities.

Venice’s 69th edition will run Aug. 29-Sept. 8.

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