(Straight from the official website) ‘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.”
Once again, 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 and so it is really quite something that once a year, almost every year since its beginning in 1932, the world seems to swarm to the Lido, which is often only a second thought for typical Venice Holidays.
This is what I love the most because there is an old fashioned elegance to the Lido, the beach huts, the 50’s style hotels, all of which makes it the perfect location for the film festival but seems slightly out of place on a winter day, after everyone has left.
From my limited, or selective film knowledge, the colours and style of the Lido has always reminded of a Wes Anderson film set.
As mentioned before the first film festival was held in 1932, and it was actually not a competition at this stage, merely a platform to celebrate the art of Film. As with everything it has grown, diminished, regrown, readjusted, rejected and survived throughout history. However, because of the medium that is film, it is one of the most interesting reflections of history. Despite become getting bigger and bigger, the very nature of the films and regulations that have been put in place reflect the culture and time in a unique way.
Since 1980’s there has been a big push to maintain the festival and make sure that its world status is well deserved.
THE GOLDEN LION 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 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 website says that the awards
“still had a statute dating back to the fascist era and could not side-step the general political climate. Sixty-eight produced a dramatic fracture with the past”.
How to enjoy it
Whilst 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, however, 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 one the films or even two, you can find the full timetable here. The films run all day, starting as early as 08.00am and going on until late. Tickets are limited but there is usually something available even last minute.
Now, of course, this requires an expedition over to the LIDO. Therefore whilst you are there, I would also recommend exploring the island, which so often is not discovered. As you come from the Vaporetto, turning right will take you down towards Alberoni, and Pelestrina, where you can find several bars and restaurants as well as the better beaches.
Alternatively turning left, will take you towards San Nicelli, Venices’ 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.
- It may be worth hiring a bike which you can find right outside the Vaporetto stop.
- There are Vaporettos all night, but after midnight they go less frequently.
In the City Centre:
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 need to make reservations for many more restaurants, because although 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.