Venice Film Fest 2021: Full-Fledged Physical Edition

Venice Film Fest Prepares for Full-Fledged Physical Edition

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Venice Film Fest will take place as a full-fledged physical event in September with a back-to-normal atmosphere and what could be a high-profile selection of films.

While the Toronto Film Festival, which runs Sept. 9-18, is sticking with a combination of digital and in-person screenings, as is Sundance 2022, Venice’s upcoming Sept. 1-11 edition is on track, barring complications, to run as an in-person celebration of cinema with journalists and film delegations from all over the world.

The fest’s parent organization, the Venice Biennale, is planning its upcoming Architecture Biennale, with the timely theme of “How Will We Live Together?” set to open May 22.

Delegations representing more than 100 Architecture Biennale projects are expected to soon arrive in Venice from 46 countries, along with more than 400 international journalists. They will follow prescribed safety protocols in compliance with Italian COVID-19 regulations, say organizers. The Veneto region is currently a lower-risk so-called “yellow zone” where bars and restaurants can stay open throughout the day, though only for outdoor consumption. Masks are still mandatory.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in an effort to relaunch tourism has announced plans for Italy in mid-May to introduce a “green pass” proving that the holder has either been vaccinated, has recovered from COVID, or has tested negative. Thanks to the expected boost in arrivals provided by the Architecture Biennale, there is now hope that 70% of Venice hotels will reopen by the end of May, the head of Venice hoteliers Claudio Scarpa recently told Italian news agency Adnkronos. Prospects are that by September Venice will be quite safe and easy to reach for vaccinated travelers from most countries.

Early buzz on film titles going to Venice is starting to spread with Denis Villeneuve’s Dune reboot strongly tipped to launch from the Lido–though both Warner, the  distributor, and the fest did not respond to confirmation requests.

Villeneuve was last in Venice with non conventional sci-fi pic “Arrival” in 2016.

Other films that look Lido-bound include:

Paolo Sorrentino’s intimate drama “The Hand of God,” which is a Netflix Italian original;

Fellow Italian helmer Gabriele Mainetti’s genre bender “Freaks Out,” about four “freaks” who work in a circus and are left to their own devices when the Eternal City in 1943 is bombed by Allied Forces, has also been submitted and is considered a shoe-in;

French auteur Bruno Dumont’s “On a Half Clear Morning” (a.k.a. “France”), toplining Lea Seydoux as a celebrity journalist whose life is turned upside down by a freak car accident;

Xavier Giannoli’s “Lost Illusions,” an adaptation of the Honoré de Balzac classic serial novel.

Venice last year was the only top-tier film fest to pull off a physical edition, albeit with less stars than usual and a smaller contingent of international guests and journalists in attendance.

Though thinner than other years on high-profile U.S. titles, the Lido’s 2020 edition launched Chloé Zhao’s triple Oscar winner “Nomadland,” bolstering Venice’s status a prime awards season kingmaker. Like last year, the festival holds special significance for Italy as a strong symbol of its post COVID restart. The Biennale was just included by the Italian government among the country’s key “cultural magnets” and as such will benefit from a €170 million ($205 million) windfall from the E.U.’s coronavirus recovery fund, destined for infrastructural improvements. So expect the fest’s Palazzo del Cinema and other venues to get an upgrade.

“Parasite” director Bong Joon-Ho will preside over the main Venice jury, while Italian actress Serena Rossi (“Love and Bullets,” “Diabolik”) will serve as master of ceremonies.

Multiple Oscar winner Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful”) will be honored with a lifetime achievement award.