72nd Venice Film Festival, Report 2

Agnès Varda, moderator, Alice and Alba Rohrwacher ©Moira Sullivan

By Moira Sullivan
72nd Venice Film Festival, Report 2

The Venice Film Festival is one of the oldest in the world yet every festival needs to update to remain vital. This year festival president Alberto Barbera was aware that young people don’t seem to come to the festival enough because there aren’t enough activities for them: parties, mingling opportunities, hangouts. One Italian festival that has successfully enlarged on this concept is the nearby Udine Far East Film Festival in the Veneto region, this year taking out a full-page ad in the pricey daily trades. The average filmgoer in Udine is under 30 and there are quite a few opportunities to attend parties and gatherings.  What does this have to do with a film festival? The party angle of a festival makes it festive. Venice now competes with the Rome Film Festival and the former director of the Venice Fest, Marco Müller , was the first president. He brought an artistic spirit to the Venice festival before he left and held a doctorate in Asian studies. Under his direction Venice featured world premieres and the Orizzonti section of innovative film work was created. And with him, the Veneto region festivals in Udine and Venice became known for presenting quality Asian cinema.

President Barbera, like Mueller has an academic background and is also a film critic. But are artistic directors responsible for the rise and fall of a film festival. This year Muller served out his three-year contract and resigned from Rome while the festival lost thousands of attendees. Each year he tried a new concept under the instruction of this bank financed corporate festival. One larger reason for failing audiences is that festivals now compete with VOD such as Netflix that presented a film in the official selection this year- Beast of Nations. Abraham Attah who played a child soldier in the film won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor. After the world premiere, the film goes to VOD. In the Venice Days parallel section a trailer was shown before each film about the decline of cinema houses with the advancements of VOD. So if young people are the major consumers of cinema today they are indulging in the current ways of screening films.  It was still refreshing to have this message in an innovative trailer encouraging people to go to the cinema just as what happened with the advent of television in the 1950s. International film critics draw attention to the films and have the same interests in the screenings as the festival directors who create the lineups. The rest is commerce with expected visits by the actors and directors of the studios that finance the films.

The festival this year had some nice moments but there were not as many exceptional films as I have experienced in past festivals in Venice. My favorite film of the festival won won best debut film and best director in the Orizzonti section : “Childhood of a Leader” by Brady Corbet. The film had all the distinguishing featues of excellent cinema, acting performances by Robert Pattinson, Stacy Martin, Liam Cunningham, Bérénice Bejo and Tom Sweet, soundtrack by Scott Walker and cinematography by Lol Crawley. This young 26-year-old director chose to film in 35mm and with all the digitalization of film today this was an intriguing decision.

In keeping step with Cannes that introduced the Kering Talks for women in film sponsored by a luxury firm, Venice presented Miu Miu tales for women sponsored by the fashion corporation. Agnès Varda and Alice Rohrwach were special guests who presented short films that were noteworthy for their innovation, and a step above a lot of the films at this festival.

© 2015 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/23/15
Movie Magazine International