Exactly 90 years after its debut, the Venice International Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica) is still one of the most dynamic and prestigious venues for filmmakers to share their visions. It was 1932 when Venice hosted the first movie exhibition, although there were no jury or awards at the time. This makes the festival one of the oldest-ever public celebrations of cinema.
Directed now for many years by the Italian film critic Alberto Barbera, the festival celebrates 90 years with its 79th edition, as it has not been held every year throughout its history. The exhibition – held under the Fascist regime in its early years – has gone through many changes that have led it to becoming the international, borderless event it is today. Nowadays, before awarding the prestigious Golden Lion, the Mostra displays many fine movies from different countries on the screens of the Lido Marconi in the enchanting setting of one of the world’s most beloved and recognizable cities.
The jury of the 79th Venice Festival
Ahead of the 79th Festival, which will be held at the Lido from August 31 to September 10, 2022, the organizers announced the jury in charge of selecting the movies entering the competition and ultimately awarding the Golden Lion and other prizes. US actor Julianne Moore will preside over a six-person jury at the 11-day festival, which includes Argentina’s Mariano Cohn, Italy’s Leonardo Di Costanzo, Spain’s Rodrigo Sorogoyen, and France’s Audrey Diwan. Diwan won Venice’s Golden Lion last year for her film dealing with back-alley abortion, L’événement (The Event). The jury also includes Iranian actress Leila Hatami and the British screenwriter and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro.
Last year’s festival
In early September 2021, the city of Venice hosted the 78th edition of the Venice International Film Festival. All the new health and safety regulations following the COVID-19 pandemic – from face masks to separated seats to the online booking system – did not stop the Biennale.
The 78th edition’s president of the jury was Bong Joon-ho, renowned South Korean writer and director of the Academy Award-winning movie Parasite. In addition, many other directors and actors came from around the world to present their latest works. The festival opened with Pedro Almódovar‘s Parallel Mothers (Madres Paralelas) and included many other acclaimed directors, such as Ridley Scott; Edgar Wright; and Pablo Larraín. Finally, Denis Villeneuve‘s long-awaited Dune also premiered.
After Paolo Sorrentino‘s The Hand of God (È stata la mano di Dio) won the Grand Jury Prize, the Golden Lion went to Audrey Diwan‘s L’Événement. The movie tells the story of a young French woman who becomes pregnant at a time when abortion is illegal and the word itself is never spoken. The movie shows the oppression of what some characters call “the disease that only women get”, the pain of undergoing unregulated abortion procedures, and the fear of being caught doing it. The awarding of L’Événement raised attention around an issue that is always relevant, anticipating the Roe Vs. Wade controversy in the US.
The festival that never stopped
The Venice International Film Festival was the only major event of its kind not to skip at least one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While many other, mostly small organizations still develop their festivals online or in a hybrid solution, the world-famous exhibition on the Lido has been held since 2020 with all the necessary safety measures, but without sacrificing in-person screenings and attending authors and stars. The online booking system and the safety measures have become the standard for many other film festivals. Although the new procedures have downsides and room for improvement, at least we are able to participate in person and enjoy magnificent movies.
The pandemic has mutated, but continues, and the mark it has left on film festivals and moviegoers is unforgettable. It is still crucial to protect the safety of screenings and movie theaters, even as we all look forward to the day when we can once again sit next to each other and watch movies without face masks.
What to expect from the 2022 edition
The 79th edition of the festival will run from August 31 to September 10. Although we will have to wait to see the official program of the event, it is likely that many authors and titles will show up on the Lido. Rumors have it that Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Bardo and Noah Baumbach‘s White Noise will represent Netflix productions at the festival, just as Paolo Sorrentino and Jane Campion (with The Power of the Dog) did last year with great success.
English actress Florence Pugh stars in both Sebastian Lelio‘s The Wonder and Olivia Wilde‘s Don’t Worry Darling, which also features English singer, songwriter, and actor Harry Styles. Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett may also return to the Lido for her role as a musician in Todd Field‘s Tar. Tilda Swinton could appear in three roles: in Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pinocchio, Joanna Hog‘s The Eternal Daughter, and Wes Anderson‘s Asteroid City.
Further possibilities include Luca Guadagnino‘s Bones & All with Timothée Chalamet and Florian Zeller‘s The Son with Hugh Jackman, Anthony Hopkins, and Vanessa Kirby. We may witness the return of Darren Aronofsky with The Whale, and Ari Aster‘s long-awaited next movie, Disappointment Blvd. with Joaquin Phoenix. The 79th Venice International Film Festival will also honor American writer-director Paul Schrader with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Schrader also attended last year’s edition with his movie The Card Counter.
If the amount of great filmmakers and stars is a sign of a recovery from the hard times of the pandemic, we can confidently say that the film festival and movie business is getting back on track. And the Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica is still here, marking its 90th anniversary, to show it to the world.