‘The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue.  (Straight from the official website for the 74th Venice Film Festival) 

The Surprising Location of the Film Festival

I will start with a very honest truth: I am not an aficionado of film, although I have tried. However, you cannot help feel the excitement that there is in Venice during these late August days. You begin to ask questions, look further and discover much more about the history and crucial part of culture, that is FILM.

There are only three major film festivals in the world, which makes it really quite special to be one of those three. Since its beginning in 1932, the world seems to swarm to the Lido, a place that is often a second thought for typical Venice Holidays.

Aside from the glamor of the Film Festival, there’s an old fashioned elegance to the Lido. Examples of this are the antique beach huts, the 50’s style hotels, the architecturally magnificent “second homes” of Venetian high society. While all of this makes it the perfect setting for the film festival, it seems slightly out of place on a winter day after everyone has left.

From my limited, or selective film knowledge, the colors and style of the Lido have always reminded me of a Wes Anderson film set.


Film Festival History

The first Film Festival was held in 1932, and it was actually not a competition in this moment. Instead, it was just a platform to celebrate the art of Film. Just like the normal ebb and flow of life, the event has grown, then diminished, then regrown, and readjusted, now surviving for many years. However, because film is a unique medium, it is one of the most interesting reflections of history. Despite becoming more popular, the very nature of the films and regulations that ensued reflect the changing culture and time in a special way.

Since 1980’s there has been a big push to maintain the festival and make sure that its world status is well deserved.

Golden Lion

The Golden Lion of the Venice Film Festival

This is the most prestigious award given at the festival and is a perfect example of how it is impossible to disentangle politics, history, cultural shifts from this festival. It is actually a tinderbox that well worth observing because the world events are reflected quite literally in the films.

One example of this dilemma is the fact that no Golden Lions were awarded between 1969 and 1979. According to the Biennale’s official website, this hiatus was a result of the 1968 Lion being awarded to the radically experimental Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos . The Film Festival’s website says that the awards “still had a statute dating back to the fascist era and could not side-step the general political climate. [The year of 1968] produced a dramatic fracture with the past.”

Venice Film Festival

How to enjoy the Festival

While you may be visiting with the express purpose of seeing 30 films in two days, or perhaps you are fortunate enough to have been invited to one of the notorious parties, the following recommendations are actually assuming neither of these scenarios. Here are some thoughts for someone less “in the know.”

If you do want to catch a film or two, you can find the full timetable here . The films run all day, starting as early as 8 am and continue showing until late. T ickets are limited, but there is usually something available even last minute.

Exploring a bit of Venice’s Lido

Keep in mind that this requires an expedition over to the Lido. Therefore, while you are there, we also recommend exploring the island, which too often goes undiscovered. As you arrive at the Vaporetto stop of Lido, make a turn right to head towards Alberoni and Pelestrina. There, you can find several bars and restaurants, as well as the better beaches.

Alternatively, turning left will take you towards San Nicelli, which is Lido’s very own airport. This is also the location for many parties during the festival, as well as carnival and the opening and closing of the Biennale.

Useful information:

  • It may be worth renting a bike, which you can find right outside the Vaporetto stop.
  • There are Vaporettos all night, but after midnight they go less frequently.

Meanwhile, back in Venice City Center:

The film festival in Venice central can also be enjoyed as there are many open air cinemas that take place in the Campos during this period.

However, you will also have a greater need to make reservations for restaurants due to the high volume of visitors during this period. (Even though the main focus of festival draws everyone to the Lido, there are tangibly more people in general.) Alternatively, you can avoid the hassle altogether and ask Truly Venice to prepare a one-of-kind dinner for you and family or friends in your own apartment. Take a look here !