Venice film festival opens with show of support for battered industry

VENICE, Sept 2- The heads of Europe’s main film festivals came together for the opening of the Venice movie showcase on Wednesday in a show of solidarity for an industry which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The director of the Cannes festival, the world’s biggest, and his counterparts for the Berlin, Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Locarno, Karlovy Vary and…

VENICE, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The heads of Europe’s main film

festivals came together for the opening of the Venice movie

showcase on Wednesday in a show of solidarity for an industry

which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The director of the Cannes festival, the world’s biggest,and his counterparts for the Berlin, Rotterdam, San Sebastian,Locarno, Karlovy Vary and London film festivals made the trip toVenice for the first such international event to take placesince the health crisis all but shut down the movie world.

“It’s not for us, everything that we’re doing and are tryingto do… It’s for the work, it’s for the films, it’s for thedirectors,” said Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux, whose ownfestival could not go ahead as planned earlier this year.

“During our conversation in March, all of us, felt the greatsolitude of the artists, who also wondered what would happen. Somuch filming stopped, lots of releases were cancelled and thevery idea that the festival could go on, while cinemas wereclosed … did them some good.”

Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who heads theprize-awarding jury in Venice this year, said she also wanted toshow support for film-makers who had to complete their movies inchallenging circumstances.

“It’s so great that there’s so many heads of festivals allover the world coming to support Venice and realising that, infact, it’s … supporting various different facets of the sameindustry,” she said.

“I think it feels very collegiate, actually, in a way thatmaybe it hasn’t before. Less territorial.”

Film festivals are often in informal competition to show themost hotly-anticipated new releases.

Blanchett and Venice director Alberto Barbera highlightedthe growth of streaming platforms during months of lockdown andthe negative effect this could have on cinemas.

“Today we risk going towards a progressive reduction of therole of movie theatres,” said Barbera.

With coronavirus cases rising again in Italy and elsewhere,a strict safety protocol has been put in place, including thewearing of face masks while watching films.

There are 18 titles competing for this year’s Golden Lionaward for best film – fewer than usual. The top prize is due tobe handed out when the festival ends on September 12.(Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Sarah Mills, writing by SilviaAloisi, editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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