Venice International Film Festival is one of the Big Five international festivals, along with alongside the Cannes Film Festival in France, the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany, the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, and the Sundance Film Festival in the US.
What happened to film festivals this year?
Two of them were lucky and took place as usual. Sundance in January and Berlin in late February got the chance to gather movie makers and those who appreciate them together. But since the lockdown closed all the theaters around the world, the rest of the film festivals had to face the impossibility to take place.
Venice Film Festival seems to refuse the surrender. Veneto’s governor announced that the festival is going to take place as planned. As a consequence, Venice’s artistic director Alberto Barbera released a letter to filmmakers, actors, and producers to ask them if they are willing to attend the festival given the current conditions.
“We know that it would be simply impossible to plan a festival without knowing if you all are willing to use the Festival to give a new start and a strong sign for keeping cinema alive, even in these difficult times,” says Barbera’s letter.
It is courage or recklessness?
There is no right answer to the question. We are divided into two sides. Some of us think we should continue to stay as isolated as possible. The others consider we should go on with life as it were. Who can say who’s right?
Italy is one of the most severely affected countries in the world by the coronavirus, with 229,858 cases and 32,785 deaths. Still, Italy refuses to accept the virus’ supremacy. It is one of the few countries that reopens the theaters.
Cinema isn’t facing a simple adjournment. “This profession, like others, is facing the risk of becoming a wasteland,” said Thierry Fremaux, the director of the Cannes Film Festival. Fremaux is waiting for autumn to decide as to whether the festival will take place this year or not.
Why are film festivals important?
Last year, the big prize at Venice Film Festival – the Golden Lion – was awarded to Todd Phillips for his film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix who won an Oscar for the part in 2020. The Palm d’Or – Cannes Film Festival’s grand prize – was won by Parasite, directed by Bong Joon Ho. Parasite won 4 Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the year.
Festivals such as the Big Five are “a gathering, a collective judgment, an influence,” as Fremaux said. They are trendsetters. So, maybe courage and a little bit of recklessness are what it takes to save cinematography from “becoming a wasteland”.