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Alberto Barbera and his team "continuing to work on” the 77th Venice Film Festival


- The festival is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic but is not pulling the plug; it is considering virtual initiatives and envisaging different scenarios, while the final decision on dates is due in May

Alberto Barbera and his team "continuing to work on” the 77th Venice Film Festival
Artistic Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera

The Venice Film Festival is going its own way. Scheduled to unspool from 2-12 September, the gathering is currently on standby because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team is still working on the upcoming edition, with Cate Blanchett set to chair the jury (see the news). It is also weighing up the possibility of making use of new technologies. "There could be a few virtual initiatives, but certainly not an entire virtual festival; besides, a decision like that would be premature," the Biennale’s press officer explained to Cinecittà News. And the festival’s Artistic Director himself, Alberto Barbera, responded to the ANSA news agency after it asked him whether he intended to follow the lead of the Toronto Film Festival (10-20 September), which is planning a limited number of in-theatre screenings alongside a bigger digital event: "Toronto is a different type of festival that isn’t comparable to Cannes or Venice, and furthermore, today all we can do is make vague plans for the future. Only once we know, in due time, what will be permitted and prohibited will we make a decision, but one thing is certain: we will be ready, whatever happens."

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"For our part,” stressed Barbera, "we’re continuing our work exactly as we did in previous years. There are still two months left, and we have before us three possible scenarios: the most pessimistic one would see the pandemic still going strong, which would force us to take a sabbatical this year and lay the 2020 edition to rest. Then there’s the most optimistic scenario, whereby the pandemic will have ended and everything will go back to the way it was before. And lastly, there’s the halfway-house scenario, which would entail a number of constraints that we cannot predict right now, and which we’d have to deal with. In conclusion, there are significant variables that will require joint decisions, but only once we have reliable, hard information. And that will happen before the end of May."

Venice’s Artistic Director also commented on what Le Monde printed several days ago – namely, that Thierry Frémaux’s delay in announcing a definitive cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival is dependent on a "game of chess" between him and Barbera, so as not to reveal – or only at the very last minute – the films accepted in selection and to avoid giving the other party an advantage: "That’s not true. Every year, we start watching the films to select, and we know full well that many of them were also submitted for Cannes. There are other criteria that determine whether the movie ends up screening with us or on the Croisette. The films are split according to other factors, including whether or not they will be available in time."

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(Translated from Italian)

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