Entertainment Movies Parties cancelled as Venice opens pandemic-era film festival

Parties cancelled as Venice opens pandemic-era film festival

Workers put the finishing touches to the red carpet for the Venice Film Festival. Photo: AP
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Venice is hosting the first major film festival since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, with organisers having to adapt to the unusual circumstances.

The lagoon-side event is set to be far less glitzy this year, with a much reduced Hollywood presence, socially distanced film screenings and face masks to be worn throughout the premises.

A spokeswoman said the festival’s opening and closing parties have been cancelled, and that some actors and directors will present their films in video-streamed press conferences, rather than in person.

For the artists that do turn up, there will be little contact with fans clamouring for selfies, as a wall has been put up to separate the red carpet from the main street.

The festival officially takes place from September 2 to 12, but will kick off on Tuesday with a pre-opening screening of Molecole by Italy’s Andrea Segre, a documentary set in virus-lockdown Venice.

The official program counts 63 films, including 18 running for the top Golden Lion prize, 21 out of competition and 19 in the sidebar Orizzonti section.

One of the Golden Lion hopefuls, Nomadland by Chloe Zhao, is touted as a contender for the 2021 Oscars.

It is an American West road movie starring and produced by Frances McDormand.

In the in-competition category, eight out of 18 films, including Nomadland, are directed by women, reflecting the festival’s efforts to respond to past criticism about gender imbalance in its selection.