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The Venice Film Festival’s independently-run Venice Days section has promoted longtime chief programmer Gaia Furrer to the role of artistic director of the section modeled on the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

Furrer (pictured) will now take the reins and call the shots regarding the lineup of Venice Days, known in Italy as the Giornate Degli Autori. She joins a growing number of women at the helm of film events in Europe such as Lili Hinstin, artistic director of the Locarno Festival in Switzerland, and Eva Sangiorgi who heads the Viennale, Austria’s top film fest.

That said, Furrer will also still be working closely with Venice Days General Delegate Giorgio Gosetti, who launched the section in 2004. Gosetti remains on board in a less hands-on role. Furrer will also continue to collaborate with the rest of the Venice Days programming team comprising Renata Santoro, who now becomes head of programming, and the section’s programmers Mazzino Montinari, Cédric Succivalli and Andrei Tănăsescu.

Gosetti in a statement called Furrer’s appointment “great news” and also “an important milestone not only for the Giornate degli Autori team, which has more than kept pace with the times,” but also “for film festivals in general, as they fully embrace gender equality and welcome a new generation of cultural professionals.”

The Venice Film Festival, which has announced plans to hold its upcoming 76th edition Sept. 2-12 on the Lido, has come under fire in the past for lack of female representation in its main competition lineup. Furrer’s appointment to head Venice Days, which is run totally separately from the fest’s main strand, marks the first time a woman runs any of the Lido’s sections or sidebars, though there are many female programmers.

Furrer called her appointment “an honor and a challenge,” in the statement and noted that “given the exceptional circumstances” due to the coronavirus pandemic this year’s edition will be “a golden opportunity to rethink the very role of film festivals and how they reach their audiences.”