×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Annette Bening Makes Stirring Speech as Venice Kicks Off on High Note With ‘Downsizing’

VENICE, Italy — The 74th Venice Film Festival opened on an upward trajectory Wednesday with Alexander Payne’s sci-fi comedy “Downsizing” eliciting plenty of praise and bolstering the Lido’s status as a prime awards-season launching pad.

Payne and stars Matt Damon, Hong Chau and Kristen Wiig pranced down the red carpet on a balmy evening promoting the Paramount pic in which humans agree to get shrunk down in order to live luxuriously in a government resort as part of an effort to save the planet from overpopulation. The paparazzi had a feeding frenzy.

Damon was accompanied by his wife Luciana Barroso in a fiery red gown. Also seen: Paramount Pictures Chairman Jim Jianopulos, main jury president Annette Bening, and Brazilian supermodel Isabel Goulart.

Once the Palazzo del Cinema theatre was full, Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella made his entry to warm applause. Security is tight on the Lido with Italy considered a possible upcoming ISIS target in the aftermath of the recent Barcelona attack. Security checks and cement protection barriers to prevent truck attacks are the most visible aspects of the anti-terror efforts which also involve floating security devices in the lagoon, plainclothes policemen with body cameras and sharpshooters on rooftops, according to local media.

The somber but effective ceremony was hosted by Italian actor Alessandro Borghi, who stars in Netflix TV series “Suburra” which is launching from the Lido.

In a brief opening adress Paolo Baratta, president of the fest’s parent organisation, the Venice Biennale, underscored improvements in the event’s facilities. “We are inaugurating a new citadel of cinema,” he said. It includes a state-of-the-art red cube-shaped 450-seat screening venue and some buildings on the Lazzaretto, a tiny island a stone’s throw from the Lido that was a leper colony in the 15th century, where Venice is launching a 22-title competitive strand dedicated to works made for virtual reality-viewing, the first-ever competition for VR works launched by a major film event.

But the highlight of the evening was Bening’s beautifully delivered speech, which also wrapped up the ceremony:

“For me cinema is magic, and I think all of us who make films are primarily audience members. We make films because we love to watch them. And to me the moment when the lights come down in the theatre and there’s a moment of silence and darkness; that is the moment of possibility. When all of us — it doesn’t matter of you are the president or the usher, or whether you are Italian or American or Iranian or Chinese or a man or a woman — we can lose ourselves in the best way possible and become free. And become like children again: open, curious and available to the possibility of the moment,” she said.

“This is what we aspire to. Along with my fellow jury members, we bring all of our passions and enthusiasm and hopefully some knowledge, but most importantly our deep love of cinema, to every film that we see. I am deeply honoured to be president of the jury.”

The fest runs through Sept. 9.

More Film

  • FICG Names Estrella Araiza As New

    Estrella Araiza To Head Up Guadalajara Intl Film Festival

    The Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG) has announced that Estrella Araiza, until now the festival’s head of industry and markets and director of the Guadalajara IntL. Film Festival in Los Angeles, has been promoted to the position of general director of the prominent Mexican festival. She replaces Ivan Trujillo, appointed director of TV UNAM. Araiza [...]

  • 'St. Bernard Syndicate' Review: A Quietly

    Film Review: 'St. Bernard Syndicate'

    John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan may have received major award nominations this season for their fine work in “Stan & Ollie,” but there’s arguably a superior Laurel & Hardy tribute act to be found in the droll Danish comedy “St. Bernard Syndicate.” As a pair of bumbling losers who turn an already dubious business [...]

  • With PGA win, 'Green Book' is

    Oscars: With PGA Victory, 'Green Book' Becomes Best Picture Frontrunner

    Save for a pair of recent back-to-back discrepancies in “The Big Short” and “La La Land,” the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures has been a fairly reliable barometer for the annual Oscar season outcome. At least, ever since both the PGA and film Academy expanded their top categories, sharing the [...]

  • Peter Farrelly30th Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    PGA Awards: 'Green Book' Wins Top Feature Film Award

    “Green Book” has won the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award as the top feature film of 2018. The 1960s drama-comedy topped “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite,”  “A Quiet Place,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice. “When you make ‘Dumb and Dumber’ you never expect to get an award,” [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Andy Gruenberg, Veteran Film Executive, Dies at 68

    Veteran film executive Andy Gruenberg, who most recently oversaw theatrical distribution at Netflix, died suddenly on Friday. He was 68. Gruenberg worked on classic films like “Ghostbusters,” “Karate Kid” and “Silverado” while at Columbia Pictures in the 80s and 90s. He then moved to MGM where he served as exec VP of distribution. There he [...]

  • Fyre Festival Caterer Receives Thousands in

    Unpaid Fyre Festival Caterer Raises Thousands in Donations on GoFundMe

    As two Fyre Festival documentaries hit the airwaves, a couple who say their credit was ruined due to the Fyre Festival’s lack of payment for their services have raised $54,381 at time of publication on GoFundMe. Elvis and Maryann Rolle wrote on their page that they catered “no less than 1000 meals per day” in [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content