VENICE 66./More alive than ever

The Festival is more alive than ever, and the same will be true for the Italian movie industry: this is what Marco Muller, director of the Venice Film Festival, and the president of the Biennale, Paolo Baratta, seemed to want to communicate to the noisy public attending the traditional press conference held at the end of July in Rome.
Trying to hide his annoyance at the placards, speeches and futurist gestures of the movie people who, both inside and outside the Excelsior, were protesting against the cuts to the FUS arts fund (delaying the press conference), Marco Muller talked about a better world.

“At last this is the Festival I wanted”, he began.
“We have movies from 25 different countries in the official selection”, a figure never seen before at previous editions.

The Festival’s official selection has also never included so many debut works (16) or second works (9).

 “There are some of the most long-awaited movies that many people presumed they would be able to see in Venice, as well as works by film-makers who have never been before, such as Michael Moore and Fatih Akin”, claims the Festival’s director.
The US movie industry will be making itself felt at this edition in all its might: an indication of the vitality highlighted by president Baratta in his polite long-distance debate with Jill Jacob, who justified the scarcity of US movies at Cannes as being due to the screenwriters’ strike.

In addition to John Lasseter, who will receive a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement from his friend George Lucas, there will be six US movies in competition at the Lido: “Survival of the Dead” by George Romero, “Life During Wartime” by Todd Solondz, “Capitalism: A Love Story” by Michael Moore, “The Road” by John Hillcoat, “A Single Man” by Tom Ford and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” by Werner Herzog.
There will also be a strong French participation with Patrice Chereau, Claire Denis, Jaco van Dormael and Jacques Rivette in competition.

But it is the Italian movie industry that will be truly triumphant with a total of 22 films.
There will be four titles in competition, three of which distributed by Medusa: in addition to “Baarìa” by Giuseppe Tornatore, which will open the festival, the other films in competition are “Il grande sogno” (The Great Dream) by Michele Placido about 1968, and Giuseppe Capotondi’s debut work “La doppia ora”, a thriller produced by Nicola Giuliano and Francesca Cima, with Ksenia Rappoport and Filippo Timi, about a meeting between a former policeman and a mysterious hotel maid.
“Lo spazio bianco” (The White Space, 01 Distribution) by Francesca Comencini, based on the novel of the same name by Valeria Parrella, is the fourth movie competing for the Golden Lion.
The other movies are distributed amongst the “Out of Competition”, “Horizons” and “Controcampo Italiano” sections.
“Le ombre rosse” by Francesco Maselli, the documentary “L’ora di Cuba” by Giuliano Montaldo, and two Italian productions filmed by Americans, “Napoli Napoli Napoli” by Abel Ferrara and the documentary “Prove per una tragedia siciliana” by John Turturro and Roman Paska, will be in the Out of Competition section.
“Horizons” will bring “Io sono l’amore” (Mikado) by Luca Guadagnino to the Lido along with “Tris di donne e abiti nuziali” (01 Distribution) by Vincenzo Terracciano, and four documentaries: “Armando Testa – Povero ma moderno” by Pappi Corsicato, “Il colore delle parole” by Marco Simon Puccioni, “Via della croce” by Serena Nono and “Deserto rosa – Luigi Ghirri” by Elisabetta Sgarbi.
The Controcampo Italiano section, created to showcase Italian movies, will screen “Il compleanno” by Marco Filiberti,”Cosmonauta” (Fandango) by Susanna Nicchiarelli, “Dieci inverni” by Valerio Mieli, the documentaries “Hollywood sul Tevere” by Marco Spagnoli, “Negli occhi” by Francesco Del Grosso and Daniele Anzellotti, “Giuseppe De Santis” by Carlo Lizzani, “Poeti” by Toni D’Angelo, “Il piccolo” by Maurizio Zaccaro, and the shorts “Hotel Courbet” by Tinto Brass and “Lola” by Giulio Questi.

The bill for this edition of the Venice Film Festival has met with unanimous approval.
Marco Muller knows this and it must have been very liberating for him to be able to say: “Don’t ask me what the main thread is for this year!”, pre-empting the customary requests for details about trends. This time we’ll find the thread ourselves: it is the Italian spirit that runs through this edition and “” as the signs around the open building site for the construction of the new “Palazzo del Cinema” remind us “” leads us to 2011, the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy when, we are assured, work will be completed.

Everybody is waiting, beginning with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage which, amidst all the controversy, has included a contribution to the building of the Palazzo in the section of expenditure dedicated to anniversary celebrations.

With a novel approach, Paolo Baratta has turned the emergency into a new opportunity: the inconvenience caused by the construction site will be compensated for by a series of improvements.
The new entrance will be from the Darsena del Casinò side, reusing the old corridors to access the Festival.
The Garden area will be upgraded (with a restaurant that will remain open even after midnight!).
The former Palalido theater, renamed the Darsena, will host movies from the Horizons section, while a new 450 seat theater will be set up (Sala Perla 2) in front of the Casinò for the movies in the Venice Days – Giornate degli Autori and International Critics’ Week sections.
The Biennale is looking forward to 2011 and the new “Palazzo del Cinema”.

“It will be just one of the many public and private works”, announces Baratta, “that will be part of the Lido’s general “˜Renaissance'”.
All in all, a Renaissance is worth a Construction Site and, for anyone who still turns their nose up at the idea, the justification mayor””philosopher Massimo Cacciari gave to a local paper is worth repeating: “Isn’t cinema itself a construction site?
Why does everything always have to be on glossy paper?
Isn’t it possible that a Festival inside a construction site could be a good thing?”

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