PICS | Final flourishes on eve of unprecedented Venice Film Festival

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Master of Ceremonies and sponsor of the 77th Venice Film Festival, Italian actress Anna Foglietta puts on a face mask as she poses during a photocall on the red carpet outside the festival's palace, on the eve of the festival's opening.
Master of Ceremonies and sponsor of the 77th Venice Film Festival, Italian actress Anna Foglietta puts on a face mask as she poses during a photocall on the red carpet outside the festival's palace, on the eve of the festival's opening.
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

  • The 77th Venice Film Festival will go ahead as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • It will run from 2 - 12 September with stringent safety measures in place.
  • On the eve of the festival organisers were installing dozens of red safety signs.
  • Ahead of the opening, festival Director Alberto Barbera said he is 'excited and a little bit anxious'.


The Venice Film Festival counted down to the movie industry's first post-Covid-19 international competition on Tuesday, with excitement, anxiety and a truckload of coronavirus safety signs still to install.

On the eve of the annual high-profile competition on the Lido, the dozens of red safety signs being unloaded and installed throughout the venue attested to the peculiarity of this year's event.

"Anti-Covid-19 rules of conduct," read the bright, vertical signs. "Wear a face mask. Keep a safe distance. Wash your hands."

The sound of drills pierced the warm beach-front air as workers went about their last-minute preparations and journalists - all in masks - wandered the freshly laid red carpet, their festival badges suspended from their necks.

The logo of the 77th Venice Film Festival is pictu
The logo of the 77th Venice Film Festival is pictured on the festival's palace on the eve of the festival's opening.
A staff (R) scans a festival worker for temperatur
A staff (R) scans a festival worker for temperature as part of anti COVID-19 procedures at the entrance of the Palazzo del Casino near the festival's palace on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival.
A staff member sets up a sign post for pedestrians
A staff member sets up a sign post for pedestrians during preparations near the festival's palace, on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival.
Security and surveillance staff gather for a brief
Security and surveillance staff gather for a briefing by the red carpet outside the festival palace, on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival.
A board advising about anti COVID-19 rules of cond
A board advising about anti COVID-19 rules of conduct is pictured on the red carpet outside the festival palace, on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival.
A photographer wearing a face mask looks out towar
A photographer wearing a face mask looks out towards the red carpet from inside the festival palace on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival.

"This year in Venice, they've confused the festival with the Carnival. We're at a masked ball," one Italian journalist quipped to his colleagues.

One exception was Festival Director Alberto Barbera, tanned and mask-free, as he gave interviews on the red carpet about the importance of this year's festival.

"I'm excited and I'm a little bit anxious," acknowledged Barbera, neatly turned out in a pressed blue suit despite the heat.

In May, 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 Venice's French rival, the Cannes Film Festival.

"We feel a responsibility to be the first. We knew Venice will be sort of a test for everyone," he said.

For the past few months across the globe, most film production remained on hold and movie theatres dark due to the coronavirus.

Fewer stars, less glitz 

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.

Meanwhile, Hollywood's A-list will be no-shows, with Australian actress Cate Blanchett supplying this year's star power as president of the jury.

"It's a festival without stars because Hollywood is still in lockdown," Barbera told AFP. "Will there be less glamour? Yes. Will there be fewer stars on the red carpet? Certainly."

"But there will be so many good films, 65 from 50 different countries, a sign of the richness and variety of contemporary cinema," he added.

Director of the Venice Film festival, Alberto Barb
Director of the Venice Film festival, Alberto Barbera puts on a face mask as he poses outside the festival's palace on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival.

Eighteen films in the main competition will vie for the festival's top prize, the prestigious Golden Lion.

Provided it was done safely, it was now time for film lovers to be back in theatre seats, Barbera said.

"We're tired of seeing films in streaming," he said.

Organisers are hoping they can roll out the festival safely despite coronavirus cases on the rise in Italy and neighbouring European countries.

Temperatures will be taken at the entrance to theatres, social distancing will be respected and - most radically - fans are no longer welcome on the red carpet, where in past years they've pressed behind barriers hoping to get a photo or autograph from their favourite celebrities.

The festival continues through September 12.

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