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CINEMA

How this year’s Venice Film Festival was ‘saved’ by Italian cinema

The Venice Film Festival will go ahead in September, and the 2020 edition will have a focus on homegrown talent with Italian cinema featuring strongly among its usual eclectic offering of international films.

How this year's Venice Film Festival was 'saved' by Italian cinema
The festival is a symbol of hope for a city hit badly by the coronavirus crisis, recent flooding, and lost tourism revenue. Photo: AFP
Like many other major events, the prestigious film festival in its 77th year faces challenges due to the coronavirus crisis but organisers say it will go ahead – with some changes.
 
In a chaotic year that has shuttered film production and closed movie theatres across the globe, the festival in Italy's beloved canal city will proceed from September 2 to 12 with 18 films vying for the top award, the Golden Lion.
 
 
The Biennale di Venezia, as it is called in Italian, has taken on outsized importance this year as many other film festivals across have the globe have been cancelled, including Venice's main competitor, the glamourous Cannes Film Festival on the Cote d'Azur, originally planned for May.
 
Auteurs with films in the main competition hail from Mexico, Azerbaijan, Israel, Russia, Iran, Japan, and India, among other countries, organisers said on Tuesday.
 
“Cinema has not been overwhelmed by the tsunami of the pandemic but retains an enviable vitality,” said festival director Alberto Barbera.
 
At the same time, he warned that some “spectacular titles” would be missing, still blocked by ongoing lockdowns around the world.
 
Even so, “the heart of the festival is saved,” Barbera said.
 
 
The Palazzo del Cinema at Venice Lido. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
 
Paparazzi-free?
 
Four of the main competition films are Italian — “Le Sorella Macaluso,” from director Emma Dante, who made her Venice debut in 2012; Claudio Noce's “Padrenostro” about Italy's wave of terrorism in the 1970s seen through children's eyes; “Notturno” by 2013 Golden Lion winner Gianfranco Rosi, which was shot over two years in Syria, and “Miss Marx” by Susanna Nicchiarelli about Karl Marx's youngest daughter.
 
The highest profile film in competition, which has already got some Oscar buzz, is US director Chloe Zhao's “Nomadland,” starring two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and Academy Award “Best Actor” nominee David Strathairn.
 
Opening the festival, but out of competition, will be Daniele Luchetti's “Lacci” (The Ties), a feature set in Naples about a marriage threatened by infidelity, the first time in over a decade that Venice's opening film has been Italian.
 
However the familiar scenes of throngs of paparazzi snapping photographs of A-listers on the red carpet and screaming fans behind barricades hoping for autographs from their favourite stars are unlikely to feature this year.
 
MORE CULTURE: 
 
'Sign of recovery'
 
Fifty countries are represented in the festival, and within the main competition eight out of the 18 films were directed by women, a figure Barbera called “extremely significant.”
 
The festival has been heavily criticised in recent years for a notable lack of films by female directors.
 
The festival's president, Roberto Cicutto, told reporters that the 2020 offering “has not renounced quantity nor the number of movies in the official selection.”
 
“This is a sign of recovery… It's like a laboratory, a test of how such an important event can be organised,” he said, adding that safety measures would include empty seats between moviegoers, temperatures taken at entrances and online-only tickets.
 
 

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.

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