Extraordinary safety measures taken at Venice Film Festival during pandemic

Movie Magazine International

The Venice film festival was the first festival to be held with a public. The extraordinary measures taken to ensure the safety of the festival go-ers made it a success with no cases of covid during the 10 day even that ran from Sept 2-12.

Here are some of the films that stood out for me towards the end of the festival. “Selva Tragica” or Tragic Jungle by the Mexican director Yulene Olaizola is set in the borders of Mexico Belize in the 1920s. The director explains that the setting is magical: "The jungle is a living being, harassed by those men trying to steal its treasures; but it takes revenge in different ways, with poisonous plants, swarms of mosquitoes, fierce animals, and with the enchantment of mysterious creatures". Here is the revenge. A woman entices these “thieves” to their demise in a role as archaic as the “catwoman” in Jacques Torneur's and Paul Shrader's Cat People. There was so much potential for this film and so much funding sunk into it. Though directed by a woman, it's still an erotic fantasy of a female interbestial predator. Having sex with all of the thieves and luring them to their death is an alignment with sexualized violence that is historically the territory of the male gaze.

Another film that stood out is "Anita", a Gujarati film screened on the last days of the festival in the Horizons short film section. The film also demonstrates that production is different for women. Made by Sushma Khadepaun with an MFA from Columbia in screenwriting and direction it was to be a feature film, then it became a short film with a script that went through 14 drafts due to challenges in production, funding, casting and location. Alice Rohrwacher’s nine minute film “Omelia Contadina” was indicative of the political engagement of filmmakers at Venice this year. Made together with JR (the collaborator with Agn├Ęs Varda in “Faces Places”) it is dedicated to the small farmers and dwellers of the Alfina plateau that exist in Italy within an increasingly developed, subsidized and “pesticized” agricultural monoculture. Rohrwacher regards this area as a cemetery and decided to give it a funeral. Her second feature “The Wonders” won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2014 and her third film “Lazzarro Felice” won best screenplay at Cannes in 2018. The daughter of a beekeeper, her films are enchanting tales of agricultural and environmental excess in Italy. Each film at Venice was seen in the context of the Covid pandemic and this was a film that revealed through magical realism the negative effects of environmental transformation.

© 2020 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/23/2020