Venice Film Festival - Report 1 2018

By Moira Sullivan

"The Nightingale" by Jennifer Kent
I want to first draw attention to the severely gender unbalanced lineup of the official competition at the Venice Film Festival which runs from August 29 – Sep 6. Whether or not Venice film festival director Alberto Barbera will be affected by a letter written to Paolo Baratta, President of the Venice Biennale, remains to be seen - written by a consortium of very active feminist film organizers in Europe: the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, Women in Film & TV International, WIFT Nordic. WIFT Sweden, and the Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network. The Venice Film Festival is part of the Biennale.

The letter includes a reference to the competition for female musicians for the Boston Symphonic Orchestra in 1952 with blind gender auditions. Can this not happen with film? Again the ancient argument for festivals like Venice is that there will be no quota for women and that all selections are based on quality not quantity. Last year 21% of all films in all categories were made by women. Barbera and Baratta claim that inequality is part of the film industry, but the writers of this letter reinforce that this is also part of the Venice Film Festival.

To get into the lineup of an A-level film festival, requires that you have won an award before and if you have not you will not get in. So, if women are excluded there is no chance to ever change the statistics.

Only one woman is in the official Venice lineup-- Jennifer Kent who made a terrific debut feature The Babadook.  Her new film is "The Nightingale". Set in 19th-century Tasmania, a young Irish convict is determined to find the British officer who terrorized her family. In her pursuit, she teams up with an Aboriginal tracker.

A film in the Orrizonti section is directed by Mary Harron who is always on the edge from I Shot Andy Warhol to American Psycho. Her new film is Charlie Says about the women who followed American the mastermind of the Sharon Tate murders - Charles Manson.

The Venice Film Festival is premiering the first four hours of an epic 16-hour doc about women in film ’ “Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema”. Directed by Mark Cousins, it to be shown in the Venice Classics section: Cousins calls it “a film school, where all the teachers are female.” “Women Make Film” is made from a male perspective even if women are contributing and producing. Could there be an inference that women need to learn how to make film, which is why there are so few women at this festival?

Interviewed are Agn├Ęs Varda , Jane Campion, Angelina Jolie, Lynne Ramsay, Sally Potter, Lois Weber (posthumously - who had her own film studio in the 1920s in Hollywood) , Anne Hui, Safi Faye, Mania Akbari, Binka Zhelyazkova, and Clio Barnard. It will also be narrated and produced by Tilda Swinton. 

Next week more from the Venice Film Festival.

© 2018 - Moira Sullivan- Air Date: 08/29/18
Movie Magazine International