Venice Film Festival prepares to welcome guests to Covid-safe EU Culture - film festival
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Mandatory face masks, socially distanced screenings and temperature scanners are set to give the usually glamorous Venice film festival a very different feel this year as organisers attempt to make the event safe with Covid-19 cases rising in Europe.
Attendees will be faced with strict measures meant to reduce the risk of infection, as nearly every European country experiences an increase in Covid-19 cases after lockdown restrictions were lifted across the continent in early summer.
That backdrop has created an unprecedented challenge for organisers of the festival, which has shifted position from arguably the most important and starry industry soiree on the circuit to the only one left standing. https://www.eudebates.tv/ #eudebates
Ahead of the event guests have been sent a list of Covid-19 guidelines, including information on passing through thermo-scanners as they enter the festival and anyone found to have a body temperature of 37.5°C or higher will be denied access.
The guidance also states that face coverings must be worn at all times, including in outdoor areas. It is not clear how that rule will be enforced, or whether attendees will be allowed to eat or drink while in screenings.
There is also doubt as to what happens if someone is asymptomatic and later tests positive, but the organisers say there is a system for tracing all attendees. The festival confirmed any visitors from countries outside the Schengen area would have to take two mandatory Covid-19 tests – one ahead of travelling to the event and one upon arrival.
Fears over the 77th edition of Venice mirroring Sundance, which was described as a “coronavirus incubator” when it took place in January, have been raised in the lead up to the event, which is the only major film festival taking place in physical form this season.
Cannes moved to a virtual format in spring as the first wave of the virus hit the continent, but Venice’s organisers refused to cancel, postpone or move online, and instead billed the event as a beacon of hope for an industry struggling to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Tilda Swinton is to receive a lifetime achievement award. Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/EPA
On Venice’s opening night eight festival directors, including the Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux, will stand together in order to “reassert the importance of the art of cinema as a sign of solidarity towards the global film industry which has been hit hard by the pandemic”, according to a statement from the festival.
Venice has earned a reputation as an award season launchpad in recent years under its director Alberto Barbera, who is in charge for the final time in 2020. Last year Joker received an eight-minute standing ovation at its premiere and won the Golden Lion, which provided the momentum for Joaquin Phoenix to mount a successful Oscars campaign.
Last year’s lineup also included Brad Pitt in Ad Astra and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth, which opened the festival, and Netflix made a splash with three films: Steven Soderbergh’s Panama Papers-inspired drama The Laundromat, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, and David Michôd’s The King, starring Robert Pattinson and Timothée Chalamet.
This year the lineup has fewer big names and major studios are staying away. The Oscars and the Baftas have been pushed back by two months with new dates set for April 2021, and studios have been forced to formulate new awards season strategies, with most deciding not to send their showcase films to festivals.
Other highlights include Regina King’s directorial debut, One Night in Miami; Alex Gibney’s new documentary about serial killers, Crazy, Not Insane; and Luca Guadagnino’s Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams a documentary about the Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo.
The buildup to last year’s festival was dominated by the lack of female directors selected by the jury and the controversial inclusion of Roman Polanski in the lineup, which caused divisions among the jury that led to the film’s producer threatening to pull it. The outcry over the lack of female directors arose from the fact that only two out of 21 films were directed by women: Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth and The Perfect Candidate by Haifaa al-Mansour.
This year that number has risen significantly, with eight out of the 18 films in competition being directed by women, including Chloé Zhao’s followup to The Rider, Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand.
The jury is headed by Cate Blanchett, and there is also a spot for the British director Joanna Hogg on a panel that will pick the coveted Golden Lion, which goes to the best film in competition.
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