The Hollywood Foreign Press Association of Los Angeles award, the new fringe accolade announced on the eve of the Festival, is the last small tessera, in chronological order, to be added to the mosaic devised by the Festival’s director, Alberto Barbera who, for around ten years has enjoyed a very fruitful association with the president of the Biennale, Paolo Baratta.
At this point it is no longer news that the Hollywood film industry has identified Venice as the springboard for the race to the Oscars; and the results of recent years, with movies selected at the Lido subsequently winning those much coveted little statues, have rewarded this choice.
However in the same way that this fringe award aims to maximize “difficult” movies (the awards will go to the winning movies in the “Orizzonti-Horizons” section), the Festival mosaic sees big US cinema coexisting with itineraries dedicated to research and supporting young talents, from Biennale College to Venice Virtual Reality.
This delicate balance has also managed to withstand the “leap” that Barbera, with his exhortation to “push beyond the boundaries instead of erecting barriers”, has decided to take this year by wel- coming to the competition films that are not destined for movie theaters: those Netflix-branded Hollywood productions that Cannes, also in compliance with French regulations, does not allow. The roles seem to have been reversed with Cannes and no longer Venice playing the role of the “old lady”, the vestal virgin of the magic of cinema on the big screen.
Venice has created the oldest Festival in the world, however the exhibition at the Hotel Des Bains on the history of the Film Festival that reveals there have actually been more than 75 editions – some are the victims of “damnatio memoriae” (Paolo Baratta’s expression) – inevitably brings up another repressed memory: the disfigurement of the icon of the Lido that is Des Bains, the victim of failed real estate speculation and the distraction of those who were supposed to preserve its memory. In any case the reopening of Des Bains, albeit only partial, is still good news.