Venice is a city built truly artfully. Whether or not because of that, but it also is a location known for its art and art-related events. The Venice Biennale started in 1895 has become the framework for a number of different such events of which the Venice Film Festival is the best known. Though the Biennale has undergone a number of reforms in the course of its existence, the film festival has remained an important part of it.
The World’s Oldest and Most Significant
The Venice International Film Festival (with its original Italian name translating as “International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art of the Venice Biennale”) was founded in 1932. This makes it the oldest international film festival in the world.
The film festival takes place in late August or early September on the island of the Lido in Venice – quite a location to be in early autumn. The film screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi as well as other venues. The Venice Film Festival with its location and long history may well be the most prestigious international film event and competition in the world.
The Biennale has declared research and promotion of new trends its foremost aim, earnestly followed all through the years of the festival’s existence. Therefore it does not show any signs of old age – in its very principle it is oriented towards the new ideas. The films presented at the main festival must be premiered at Venice, while the Horizons or Orizzonti programme focuses specifically on the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema. Still the history is not altogether omitted from the festival’s programme: there are both classics – usually restored classic films – and less distant history, namely, out of competition films by directors having previously established their reputation at the festival.
Films and Lions
There are quite a few categories within the festival for the films to compete in. Accordingly each of categories has its specific prizes. The main categories are as follows:
- Competition – with 20 selected films participating
- Venezia classici – for documentaries about filmmaking and restoration of films
- Out of competition – a special selection of films screened at the Festival
- Orizzonti – a competition of films featuring new trends in cinematic expression
- Controcampo Italiano – a selection of Italian cinema with 7 narrative feature-length films, 7 short films, and 7 documentaries
The main prize is, of course, the symbol of Venice – the Golden Lion, awarded to the best film in the main competition, while the Silver Lion is awarded to the best director, while the best actors and actresses are awarded Volpi Cups.
Of course, there are the red carpets for the participants to appear on and demonstrate their attire, press events where the persons in whom the news-hungry reporters are interested to appear – in person or sometimes even virtually – in order to either share some thoughts or just appear. But nothing is strictly set to remain so. Except maybe, that the festival, aimed at promotion of the international cinema, has little in common with the Hollywood titles so much better known to regular cinema-goers.