The 2nd Venice Film Festival – this time a competitive event – was held in 1934 with the participation of over 19 nations and more than 300 journalists. Due to the fact that an actual jury had not been appointed, the prizes were handed out by the President of the Biennale, after listening to the suggestions from experts and the audience.
Starting in 1935, as a consequence of its huge success, the Venice Film Festival became an annual event and in 1936 an international Jury was appointed, confirming the presence of important movies and directors at the Venice Festival.
In 1937, Venice opened the new Film Palace, which has hosted the Film Festival ever since with the exception of the years 1940 to 1948.
From 1938 until the end of the war, the Venice Festival was inevitable affected by the difficult international situation, with the 1940 to 1942 editions being made invalid. The 1938 edition is to be remembered as the one with the first retrospective of the Venice Film Festival, dedicated to French cinema between 1891 and 1933, with comprehensive screenings of real French masterpieces from the ‘30s.
After the end of the war, the Venice Film Festival was held again in 1946, and was poised to regain the freedom and international reputation that were lost during the Fascist and Nazi regimes. These are the years of the great Italian Neorealist movies that saw the returns to Venice of international stars and directors.
In the splendid surroundings of the Venice Doge’s Palace and with a record audience of 90.000 spectators, the 1947 Film Festival is considered one of the best Festival editions ever.
The 50’s, 60’s and 70’s
During the 50’s the Venice Film Festival underwent a period of international expansion, thanks to the participation of movies from Japan, India and Eastern Europe as well as great actors and directors.
During these years, two great Italians - Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni – established themselves as leading directors thanks to the Venice Film Festival, new talents emerged and international accolades were handed out to established authors and new comers.
The 50’s were also marred by heated debates over the handing out of prizes: movies that received, at a later stage, worldwide acclaim went almost unnoticed at the Venice Festival.
Thanks to movies from British cinema, the French nouvelle vague and the debut of young Italian authors, the 60’s mark the complete realization of the international process of the Venice Film Festival that was started after the second world war.
Under the guidance of Luigi Chiarini, from 1963 onwards The Venice Festival succeeded in reinventing itself thanks to the selection of movies according to rigorous aesthetic criteria and the rejection of social life, political pressures and the interference of the film industry.
Like in the Fascist period and in the 40’s, the Venice Film Festival was again affected by social and political problems at the end of the 60’s.
From 1969 to 1979 the Venice Film Festival did not award prizes, but a number of new features were introduced: new cultural sections, the awarding of the Golden Lion for career achievement (John Ford and Charlie Chaplin) and the first public screening of a Chinese film documentary.
In 1972 and 1978 the Venice Festival was not held, whilst from 1974 to 1976 a different festival was organized, with screenings of new movies, tributes, retrospectives and conferences.
Despite the difficulties and the negative period, the Venice Film Festival still included many movies indicative of the cinema renaissance of the ‘70s.
1979 was a turning point for the Venice Film Festival with the new director, Carlo Lizzani, laying the foundations to win back the prestige and importance lost in the previous years. This edition was also the instigator of the debate known as “Cinema in the ‘80s”, centred on cinema and new technologies, which had during these years started to emerge. On top of an ever increasing number of movies, retrospectives on important authors and movements received greater attention, as did sections devoted to experimentation (”Officina”) and spectacular movies (“Mezzogiorno-Mezzanotte”).
During the ‘80s the Venice Festival helped establish at an international level the new style of German movies and, for the first time, the limelight focussed on new directors who later became great authors in the contemporary film scene. These are the golden years of the Venice Film Festival after the debacle of previous editions. The different sections of the festival received formal definitions, with space given to film masters from the past and present and an international jury composed only of authors.
In 1987 the Film Festival proposed a new format: the new, slimmed and pressing programme of the Venice Festival was immediately met with great enthusiasm by the audience and experts alike.
This edition distinguished itself from previous ones for the constant attention to new authors and unusual works, with movies from India, Lebanon, Switzerland, Norway, Korean and Turkey staged for the first time at the Venice Film Festival.
In 1988 the Venice Film Festival acquired two new important sections, “Horizons” and “Nights”, and “Special Events”. This edition also included the controversial film The Last Temptation by Martin Scorsese and the emergence of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
The 90s and today
Another innovator of the Venice Film Festival has been Gillo Pontecorvo, director of the Venice Festival since 1996. With his guidance, the Film Festival is reorganized under three main themes: making Venice the capital of film making, bringing great directors and film stars back to the Venice Lido and revitalizing the area around the Cinema Palace.
Thanks to many new initiatives and events, the Film Festival is flourishing again: the “Night” section hosts movies of great acclaim, Hollywood superstars returned to Venice, rock concerts and additional events are taking place. In particular, the section “CinemAvvenire”, which for the first time includes a jury of young people awarding the best debut film, brings the Venice Festival back in the limelight. During these years, high appreciation was given to upcoming oriental movies and young hopefuls from American cinema.
Towards the end of the Nineties, the Film Festival started a renovation program of its facilities and a new vast marquee – PalaLido - was erected to accommodate the ever increasing number of spectators. Improvements carry on into the new century with new facilities, expanding the total floor area of the Film Festival to over 11.000 square metres and the improvements of the connections amongst the different areas of the Venice Festival.
The ever increasing presence of Hollywood stars at the Venice Film Festival, which gives the Venice Festival greater visibility and fame, is also the cause during these years of heated debates of those opposing a school of thoughts that values foreign works to the detriment of Italian movies.
In 2001 the section “Cinema of the Present” was brought in, awarding debut works and alternative and innovative movies and supporting this way new experimentations. The highlight of these years has been the posthumous premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut, which attracted to Venice a huge crowd of spectators, thanks also to the presence of the starring couple Cruise-Kidman.
A highly acclaimed new feature of the 2002 Film Festival was the section “Counter current” presenting original and vibrant movies, whilst the 2004 edition saw the introduction of the section “Digital Cinema”, dedicated to the new digital techniques.
The 2004 and 2005 editions of the Venice Film Festival saw the staging of two important retrospectives: “Secret history of Italian Cinema”, aimed at recuperating genre Italian movies from the 60s and 70s, and “Secret history of Asian Cinema”.
In 2006, for the first time since the end of WWII, the Venice Festival presented movies as worldwide premieres, a highly appreciated new feature of this edition.
Another event adding to the history of the Venice Festival was the 2007 edition, in which Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker received very little consideration by the jury of the Venice Festival but went on to win six Oscars.
It is undoubtedly true that the Venice Festival has greatly influenced the history of cinema around the world over the years, bringing into the limelight niche movies as well as new authors and artists and offering a showcase of celebrities and social life on a par with the American Oscars. With its winners and losers, acclaims and many controversies, the Venice Film Festival has seen, and still sees, the elites of the world’s cinema from the past and present come under its limelight.
The Venice Film Festival – celebrations and collateral events
The Venice Festival is more than just cinema: during the Film Festival the Venice Lido will offer a dense calendar of collateral events with exhibitions, talks, splendid parties and venues opne all night.
The nights of the Venice Film Festival, with restaurants, bar, night screenings and transport running until 3am, are in fact a not-to-be-missed event.
Meetings, talks and debates will be hosted every night to enrich the program of night movies in Sala Grande with the presence of the directors and actors.
There will be many facilities hosting all the collateral events – one of them being the Movie Village, housing the press room and screenings and also an interactive information point with information on night happenings, events and offers from the public venues of the Venice Lido.
The gardens of the Casino are the location of the Movie Garden, a heaven for true cinema aficionados with stalls of cinema organizations and other groups, home video stores selling rare movies, meetings, music and additional events.
Worth mentioning is also Circuito Off, the international festival of short movies at the Isle of San Servolo, running alongside the Venice Film Festival.
Well-known and historic, the Excelsior Hotel has always been the favourite destination by film stars during their stay in Venice. During the Film Festival, it houses press conferences and parties.
Additional theme parties are held in several venues at the Venice Lido and on the beach, whilst other locations - such as the Quintessentially Terrace, the Excelsior Hotel and the Lancia Cafè – will host exclusive parties with actors, international djs and journalists. Meetings and conferences on cinema are held at the Cinecitta’ Club Holding and the Sala Tropicana.
The venues of the Festival
Film Festival – Venice Lido
The Venice Lido is a slender island in between the Venice lagoon and the Adriatic sea, connected to the city and the mainland via ferries and ferry-boats.
With 18th century rock piers, the island shore stretches all the way to the Casino square, which has been housing since the 30s the venues of the Venice Film Festival. The main street, the Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, crosses the lagoon island down to the sea and its central section is flanked by Art Nouveau buildings and many green areas.
Film Festival – Screening venues
Palazzo del Cinema (Sala Grande: 1,032 seats and Sala Volpi: 160 seats)
Sala Darsena (1,300 seats)
PalaBiennale (1,700 seats)
Sala Perla at the Palazzo del Casinò (400 seats)
Industry Meeting Points at the Casino and the Excelsior, for professionals only.
Stands, internet points and refreshment points for the public and trade operators.
Film Festival - How to get there
- By train: from Venice St Lucia railway station, 5.1/5.2 ACTV ferry to Lido/S. Maria Elisabetta.
- By car: exit motorway at Venice, follow the signs to Venice-Lido and the ACTV ferry boarding point.
- By ferry: from Piazzale Roma and from the railway station, ACTV routes 1/2/6 or 5.1/5.2.
Only during the Film Festival:
'MdC' service: from the train station to Lido Casinò: from 4.40pm to 1am; viceversa from 5.25pm to end of screenings. Stops at Piazzale Roma, Zattere and San Zaccaria.
Service 20 (free for all accredited visitors):
-San Zaccaria to Lido Casinò: from 6.45pm to 1.45am (at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour)
-Lido Casinò to San Zaccaria: from 7.10pm to 2.10am (at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour)
- By air: from Marco Polo airport: Alilaguna rossa service, Lido S.Maria Elisabetta / Casinò stop.
Services for public and operators
Film Festival – Programme and tickets
Times and screening venues of the Venice Film Festival are usually published in website of the Biennale from the second half of August and tickets for the screenings can be purchased online (www.labiennale.org).
University students can receive accreditations to watch many of the screenings at very affordable prices.
Film Festival – Restaurants
The restaurants of the Venice Lido accredited with the Biennale are open on a rota until 4am and offer to accredited visitors menus at fixed price.
Film Festival – Transport
During the Film Festival there is additional public transport between Venice and the mainland: ferries between the Casinò Marina and St Mark-Piazzale Roma until 3am. Buses to San Nicolò and ferries to Punta Sabbioni are run until 4.15am.
Film Festival - Additional services:
Available all around the venues of the Film Festival, Piazzale S.Maria Elisabetta and Gran Viale. Service is free.
Bikes may be hired and returned at Piazzale S.Maria Elisabetta/Via Candia (at the Palazzo del Cinema). Bike sharing cards distributed at the Info Point.
Camping area at Alberoni, suitable for 1-4 people tents; parking for car/motorbike/bicycles. Info: Tel. +39 041 731076 / 70.
For further information
Tel. +39 041 5218 711
Fax +39 041 5218 854