At the screening of opening film, Lacci by Italian director Daniele Luchetti, the theatre was just half full with journalists, whose temperatures were taken before being allowed inside. 18 films in the main competition will vie for the festival’s top prize, the prestigious Golden Lion. About 6,000 people are expected to turn out this year about half the festival’s usual number as border restrictions around the globe have limited the ability of many to travel.
Most of Hollywood’s A-list will be no-shows, with Australian actress Cate Blanchett supplying this year’s star power as president of the jury. In May, Festival Director Alberto Barbera made the high-stakes decision to go ahead with La Mostra — now in its 77th year despite film festivals around the world opting to cancel, including the Cannes Film Festival. We feel a responsibility to be the first. We knew Venice will be sort of a test for everyone, Alberto Barbera said.
For the past few months across the globe, most film production remained on hold and movie theatres dark due to the coronavirus. It’s a festival without stars because Hollywood is still in lockdown, Barbera told a news agency. But there will be so many good films, 65 from 50 different countries, a sign of the richness and variety of contemporary cinema. Provided it was done safely, it was now time for film lovers to be back in theatre seats, Barbera said.
Organisers are hoping they can safely run the festival despite coronavirus cases on the rise in Italy and neighbouring European countries.