As Cannes kicks off its virtual market, the Venice Film Festival is firmly on track to hold its physical edition in September with plans for a real red carpet and a substantial, albeit slimmed down, lineup.
The Palazzo del Cinema has now been reopened on the Lido, and fest staff are working from their offices. Accreditation forms went out to Italian and international press a few days ago, ahead of Venice’s July 28 lineup announcement, which will probably take place virtually.
The Hotel Excelsior, which is the fest’s main Lido hub, has announced it will reopen in July. Top hotels in Venice such as the Cipriani, Gritti and Danieli, where A-list talent have been known to stay during the fest in past pre-pandemic editions, have also announced they will soon be back in business, following closures due to the coronavirus crisis.
“There will necessarily be fewer movies, but there will be enough titles to guarantee an important edition,” says a Biennale source who adds that due to current social distancing norms for Italian movie theaters – which reopened last week – films at Venice will screen contemporaneously in several theaters, thus the partial reduction in the number of titles, which in a normal year would amount to roughly 60 world premieres.
Though Italy’s post-pandemic norms currently set a social distancing limit of 200 spectators per screening venue, Veneto region governor Luca Zaia – who is also a board member of the Biennale, the fest’s parent organization – recently announced he will pass a special allowance, so that more than 200 fest attendees will be able to see films in the fest’s 1,100-seat Sala Grande and most of the other larger Venice venues. An additional outdoor festival screening venue will be set in Venice in the Giardini della Biennale gardens.
“It will be an edition with unique characteristics in its history, and even for this reason, it will be memorable,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera wrote in an Instagram post last week.
“We don’t yet know exactly what we will be able to do, but meanwhile, we are proceeding with the films’ selection and laying out a plan that can guarantee maximum security,” Barbera added. “We are counting on everyone’s support to restart in the best possible way.”
Word from Biennale insiders is that the festival is planning for red carpet activity in front of the Palazzo Del Cinema, probably with socially distanced photographers.
As for the films, submissions are pouring in. The Venice selection is expected to comprise new films from all over the world, including Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, alongside Europe. There will also be U.S. titles launching from the Lido, though the American presence is likely to be smaller than usual for various coronavirus-related reasons, the main one being current travel restrictions. Though Hollywood studios and possibly Netflix are likely to sit this edition of Venice out, also due to the 2022 Oscars being postponed, some U.S. indie companies will probably not pass up the opportunity.
Italy on June 3 reopened to tourists from the European Union, allowing unrestricted travel after months of lockdown, but is currently closed to visitors from the U.S. and other countries outside the EU, though it is expected by start lifting of restrictions on arrivals from outside the EU in early July.