VENICE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 07: Catrinel Marlon walks the red carpet ahead of the closing ceremony of … [+]
The decision to hold the prestigious Venice Film Festival in September this year has been hailed as a “sign of hope” for the film industry. It may also be a positive message for the future of the canal city.
The Governor of the Veneto Region, Luca Zaia, has announced that the Venice Film Festival will go ahead as planned in September. “It will take place at the end of August and the beginning of September and I see it as a good sign,” Zaia told television broadcaster RAI.
The “Mostra” is the world’s longest-running film festival, and this year will be its 77th edition. Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera wrote on Instagram, “It will be a unique edition. We still don’t know exactly what we’ll be able to do, but in the meantime are selecting the films and drawing up a plan to allow everyone to participate safely.”
Zaia has noted that there will be fewer films as some production had to be halted during the coronavirus lockdown, as well as a reduced number of guests and crowds of fans in order to maintain safety distances.
The decision to go ahead with the festival has been seen as an important “post-COVID experiment” for Italy and for the film industry.
It may also prove beneficial to the city of Venice itself, which is facing a critical moment as tourism looks set to return to the city in full force.
Before coronavirus lockdown, Venice was struggling with a level of overtourism that was destroying the city itself and its community.
The overwhelming number of visitors to Venice has caused Airbnb properties to triple in number since 2015, forcing residents to relocate to the mainland where house prices are lower.
Particularly unwelcome are the “mordi e fuggi” hit-and-run day-trippers who bring little economic benefit to local businesses in the city as they eat and sleep either on the mainland or on cruise ships.
Venice’s economy has become almost entirely reliant on tourism and many residents are now hoping this can be changed.
The Venice Film Festival, usually held on the Lido, will reportedly use other spaces in the city as well this year. There have been suggestions that the Arsenale Shipyards, also used for the Venice Biennale exhibition, could be turned into temporary cinemas.
This could see the beginning of using spaces in the city and generating income outside the monoculture of tourism. There have already been suggestions that Venice should build on its renowned film festival to develop a film industry in the city.
Tourism has already begun to return to the city with the reopening of Italy’s borders to some EU states on June 3, but initiatives like the diversification of cinema venues for the Film Festival will hopefully inspire other projects that open Venice up to new cultural and economic possibilities.