venice film festival

Even though the 2020 Cannes Film Festival had to be canceled earlier this year due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, some film festivals slated for later this year are still on track to happen, albeit with some changes. The 2020 Venice Film Festival will be joining the likes of the Toronto International Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival by marching onward in early September, however, this year will have a reduced selection of films, shifts for certain sections, and new outdoor venues.

The Hollywood Reporter has the announcement from 2020 Venice Film Festival organizers about the plans for this year’s event, which features some changes to the traditional festival that have “become necessary as a result of the sanitary protocols imposed by the COVID-19 emergency.”

The first change for the 2020 Venice Film Festival will be a reduced selection featuring somewhere between 50-55 films. This includes around 20 features in the competition section Venezia 77, and another 30 films or so in the Orizzonti (or Horizons) section for more edgy titles and the traditional Out of Competition section. There will also be screenings from the Biennale College Cinema program featured as well.

However, the 77th Venice Film Festival will not have the Sconfini section, which usually showcases art-house and genre films, experimental films, TV shows, and cross-media productions. Festival organizers said this section was cut in order to provide “the greatest possible number of seats for the repeat screenings of the films in the main sections.” In addition, the Venice Classics section will not be part of the fest this year, but it will live on at the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato, a showcase for restored films that is slated to take place August 25 – August 31 in Bologna, Italy.

As for where the 2020 Venice Film Festival screenings will take place, the usual cinemas for the Venice Film Festival will still be used. Organizers say they’ll be “adopting all the safety measures established by the competent authorities for the health emergency and in force on the date of the event.” Their efforts also include the creation of two outdoor venues in Giardini della Biennale and in the skating rink on the Lido. Most of the festival’s selections will also be showing at the Cinema Rossini in Venice and at the Centro Culturale Candiani in Mestre, for the Esterno Notte program organized by the Comune di Venezia’s Circuito Cinema.

Meanwhile, the Venice Virtual Reality competition will still be part of the 2020 Venice Film Festival, but it will be shown entirely online through a dedicated platform accessible to all accredited visitors, thanks to VRChat and HTC Vive Pro.

Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in an official statement:

“I am extremely pleased that the Biennale Cinema can be held with a minimum reduction of films and sections. Without forgetting the countless victims of these past few months to whom due tribute shall be paid, the first international festival following the forced interruption dictated by the pandemic becomes the meaningful celebration of the re-opening we all looked forward to, and a message of concrete optimism for the entire world of cinema which has suffered greatly from this crisis.”

Barbera also noted that some filmmakers will be on hand to present the films, but for all those who can’t attend due to travel restrictions, there will still be press conferences done virtually online.

It might seem like a bad idea to have a film festival right now, but since this one isn’t happening until early September, there’s a lot of time to see how the coronavirus pandemic shakes out. Even though Italy was hit hard early on by coronavirus, the entire country now has fewer new cases daily than many states in the United States. So they’ve been responsible about squashing the virus and making sure it doesn’t surge again.

The full line-up of films for the 2020 Venice Film Festival will be announced on July 28 and the festival will take place from September 2 – September 12. We’ll be sure to keep our ear to the ground for any updates that might come for and through the festival.

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