Matt Damon film ‘Downsizing’ to open Venice Film Festival

Oscar-winning US director Alexander Payne's latest movie "Downsizing" is to open this year's Venice Film Festival, while his compatriot Annette Bening will head the Mostra jury, organisers announced on Saturday.

Matt Damon film 'Downsizing' to open Venice Film Festival
US actor and activist Matt Damon participates in a conversation with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in Washington, DC earlier this year. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP
The sci-fi film, starring Matt Damon as a man who realises he would have a better life if he shrank himself, will get its world premiere on August 30 at the 74th Venice festival.
Co-starring Kristen Wiig as his wife Audrey, dreaming of a better life, the movie is due for general release at the end of the year. Parts of the movie were filmed in Norway
Payne, who won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay in 2004 and 2012, directed “Mr Schmidt” starring Jack Nicholson in 2002, 2004's “Sideways” and 2013's black and white “Nebraska”.
Oscar-nominated Bening, whose credits include “American Beauty” (1999) and “The Kids are Alright” (2010), will head the jury of the oldest film festival in the world.
The Venice Film Festival will run from July 30 to August 9, 2017.


Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.