The Venice Film Festival is set to open with “La Nostra Vita” director Daniele Luchetti’s latest film, “Lacci” (The Ties).
The Naples-set feature, which will play out of competition, stars Alba Rohrwacher, Luigi Lo Cascio, Laura Morante, Silvio Orlando, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Adriano Giannini and Linda Caridi. Set in the early 1980s, the film is based on Domenico Starnone’s eponymous 2017 novel and centers on a marriage that is threatened by a potential affair.
“Recently, we have all feared that cinema might become extinct,” said Luchetti. “Yet during the quarantine it gave us comfort, like a light gleaming in a cavern. Today we have understood something else: that films, television series, novels, are indispensable in our lives.
“Long live festivals, then, which allow us to come together to celebrate the true meaning of our work. If anyone thought it served no purpose, they now know it is important to everyone. With ‘Lacci’ I am honored to open the dances of the first great festival in unexpected times.”
It’s been more than 10 years since Venice opened with an Italian film. The last instance was the 2009 edition, where Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Baarìa” kicked off the fest.
Openers in recent years have all been largely U.S. or European offerings. The 2019 opening film was Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Catherine Deneuve-starrer “The Truth.” The year prior, it was Damien Chazelle’s Ryan Gosling-fronted “First Man,” and in 2017, Venice opened with Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing.”
Raising the curtains on the 2020 fest with a domestic offering was largely expected, given the restrictions placed on international travel. However, it allows the festival to champion homegrown talent during a turbulent period for the industry, and also virtually guarantee one of the first major red carpet events in months — no small feat in boosting industry morale after months of paralysis.
Acknowledging the long hiatus between the last Italian pic to play the fest, Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said, “This happy opportunity was offered by the wonderful film directed by Daniele Luchetti, an anatomy of a married couple’s problematic coexistence, as they struggle with infidelity, emotional blackmail, suffering and guilt, with an added mystery that is not revealed until the end.
“Supported by an outstanding cast, the film is also a sign of the promising phase in Italian cinema today, continuing the positive trend seen in recent years, which the quality of the films invited to Venice this year will surely confirm,” added Barbera.
“Lacci” will be screened Sept. 2 in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido. Produced by IBC Movie with Rai Cinema, “Lacci” was written by Starnone, Luchetti and Francesco Piccolo.
Venice runs from Sept. 2-12, and will be the first major international film event to hold a physical edition amid the coronavirus crisis. Cate Blanchett (pictured) will head this year’s jury. The fest’s lineup is set to be announced Tuesday (July 28), and though reduced, organizers have promised it will be substantial.
The fest’s official selection will consist of 50-55 feature films, roughly 20 of which will screen in the main competition, called Venezia 77. The rest of the titles will launch either in the Horizons section, dedicated to edgier fare, or in the Lido’s Out of Competition section.
Travel into Italy is currently allowed from within Europe, including the U.K., and open to a few third-party countries such as Australia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand. There is a ban in place for the U.S., though it’s expected to lift by July 31.
In an exclusive interview with Variety earlier this month, Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said he was “confident that the majority of directors and talent of invited films will be able to come to Venice and have confirmed that they will be coming.”
“I am optimistic about the possibility that most people will be able to come. If they can’t, or they don’t feel up to it, we will offer ways of promoting their films using online technologies. But, I repeat, the bulk of the films will be coming to Venice with a physical presence of talent,” said Barbera.
The fest’s informal market, which is called the Venice Production Bridge, will be held as usual on the third floor of the Hotel Excelsior with some components also taking place online. Virtual one-to-one meetings regarding the 52 projects from all over the world that are in the final phase of development and funding being presented at the Venice Gap Financing Market will also be organized online for accredited professionals who are unable to travel to Venice.