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Venice Film Festival Announces Extended Film Review Embargoes

The Venice Film Festival has announced a change in its official press screenings policy that will require all journalists to observe an extended embargo on publishing reviews. Reviews will be embargoed on all movies presented at its upcoming 75th edition until those films’ public screenings have started.

Critics who attend press screenings, which traditionally take place earlier in the day, will be required to withhold publication of reactions until the first official public screening of each film has commenced. The festival said that, “in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the festival and the quality of the welcome it offers,” it had become “necessary to request that each and every journalist should observe this embargo.”

The move mirrors the policy of the Berlin Film Festival and comes after controversial changes at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which decided to scrap morning press screenings ahead of red-carpet premieres.

Festivals have increasingly come under pressure from filmmakers and distributors when first reactions have erupted online ahead of a film’s red-carpet premiere. Many critics agree that enforcing such embargoes is a logical and welcome solution, avoiding embarrassment to festivals and filmmakers where critical reaction may be known to be negative before any public audience has had a chance to see a film, while still allowing critics to remain ahead of the curve.

Following the announcement of the Cannes changes, festival chief Thierry Fremaux told Variety that he belonged “to the generation that respects the press and doesn’t think a tweet is the same thing as a serious article published by a critic.” He said the changes to the screenings schedule aimed at putting the “gala evenings and red carpet back at the heart of the festival.”

Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” will open this year’s Venice Film Festival, which runs Aug. 29 – Sept. 8. The festival’s prestigious lineup of world premieres will also offer first critical reactions to highly anticipated films including the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Paul Greengrass’ “22 July,” Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favorite,” Luca Guadagnino’s remake of “Suspiria,” and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born.”

Guillermo del Toro, whose Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water” premiered in Venice last year, heads this year’s festival jury.

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