When in Venice, do as you normally do: plan to still hold your international film festival this year despite the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Venice Film Festival is still planning to hold its 2020 edition as planned this September, despite fears around the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has cancelled or postponed festivals around the world, including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. But despite reports that Venice and Cannes could collaborate in a joint initiative, the president of the Venice parent organization has shut down the possibility.
The Venice Film Festival is still planning to run in its usual September time slot, according to Variety. The annual Venice Film Festival, which is considered the world’s oldest film festival, is usually held in September. The president of the festival’s parent organization, Venice Biennale, Roberto Cicutto confirmed that the 2020 festival will keep that tradition. Cicutto confirmed the September 2-12 dates of the 77th Venice Film Festival with Italian news agency ANSA.
The festival had recently rejected the idea of going digital — despite some festivals like SXSW and TIFF opening up to the idea — and it also seems to reject the prospect of postponing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shown no signs of slowing its spread any time soon. Italy was one of the hardest hit countries in the early spread of the virus, and remains in strict lockdown. The death toll in the country is currently at the 23,000 mark and the numbers continue to climb, though new infections are believed to have plateaud, and some hope that Italy could come out of its crisis soon. Venice seems to be banking on that hope with its September, despite fellow September film festival TIFF currently weighing a digital option. But while Cicutto admits that he expects “foreign attendance will be necessarily much smaller,” than past festivals, Venice will still proceed as normal. Cicutto did add that digital technology is “being fine-tuned” and may be offered to foreign press who can’t attend in person.
However, Venice doesn’t plan to collaborate with Cannes in a joint-initiative — a possibility that Cannes director Thierry Fremax mentioned in the event that the French film festival were cancelled (it still, perplexingly, hasn’t been). Cicutto shot down the collaboration and snuck in a dig at Fremaux while he was at it, saying, “With Cannes, everything is possible, but I find it disconcerting that Thierry Fremaux keeps saying he is continuing to examine the situation and does not say what he wants to do.”
“We are going forward with our program, and if Cannes is still thinking (about their course of action) then there is no dialogue,” added Cicutto.
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