Having previously served a continuous nine-year stint at the festival’s helm, he now becomes the longest-standing chief in Venice’s storied history.
He was re-upped by the board of the fest’s parent organization, the Venice Biennale, headed by former Cinecittà/Luce chief Roberto Cicutto. The Biennale on Tuesday also announced the dates for Venice’s 78th edition which will run September 1-11.
Barbera’s re-appointment was widely expected after he pulled off the feat of holding the festival’s 77th edition in September as a physical edition, despite coronavirus constraints.
Barbera’s rapport with Venice has had its ups and downs. Before his appointment in 2012 – which has now been extended through 2024 – he had previously served as Venice’s artistic director between 1999 and 2001. He was assembling his fourth edition under that mandate in 2002 when Silvio Berlusconi came to power which prompted Barbera to be ousted from the job due to Italy’s political spoils system at that time
Barbera’s leadership at the Lido event has always been characterized by innovation. During his first mandate he introduced a parallel competition, now called Venice Horizons. When he came back in 2012 he slimmed down the number of films and steadily turned the Venice Film Festival into an awards-season springboard, presciently programming a string of titles that would garner acclaim, including “Gravity,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight,” “La La Land,” “The Shape of Water,” “Roma,” “Joker,” and this year “Nomadland.”
He also added a market component to the fest and launched the first competitive VR section at a major film event.
Born in the Piedmontese town of Biella in 1950, Barbera is a former film critic. Before heading Venice he served as artistic director of the Torino Film Festival between 1989 and 1998 and during this time he put the event on the international map as a launching pad for young talents and fresh films from around the world. He is also a former director of Italy’s National Film Museum in Turin.
This year Barbara became a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.