The 80th edition of Venice Film Festival commences amid WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes

The 80th annual Venice International Film Festival kick started on Wednesday amid ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike, which has affected the film-lineup, celebrity attendance and audience turn out for the festival.

On Wednesday, during the Venice opening night, the number of crowd lined up outside the Sala Grande Theatre was comparatively low.

The festival was supposed to start with Zendaya’s Challengers; instead it began with an Italian war drama Comandante, which also received a brief 90-second standing ovation from the crowd

According to festival spokesperson, Adam Driver, Sofia Coppola and Mads Mikkelsen are likely to be among several prominent personalities who will attend the festival.

In total, 23 movies are participating for the Golden Lion competition this year with some 19 fiction films and documentaries, two TV series, and a short film.

Some of the highly anticipated films that are lined-up for the competition are Pablo Larraín’s El Conde, David Fincher’s The Killer, Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, Michael Mann’s Ferrari and Ava DuVernay’s Origin, which a significant achievement for the director as she becomes the first African American filmmaker to play in the competition.

The jury members for the 8th edition included Laura Poitras, Martin McDonagh, Santiago Mitre, Shu Qi, Jane Campion and Damien Chazelle, who is also appointed as a jury president.

Chazelle and McDonagh expressed their support for the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood during day’s first press conference. Chazelle was also clicked wearing a tea-shirt with a slogan “Writers Guild on Strike” during a photo call.

Another highlight from the festival was, when Charlotte Rampling, who played the unforgettable protagonist of Caviani’s groundbreaking 1974 “The Night Porter”, presented the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to renowned Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani.

At the time of presenting the award, Rampling spoke about Cavani’s vast body of work, including Francesco and Ripley’s Game, she said, “From the early 1960s, Cavani has been forcing us to confront the beautiful, the ugly and the unresolved.”

Creating a historical moment, Cavani is the first woman over 80 editions of the Venice Film Festival to be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, noted the director in her speech adding “It’s not entirely fair. There are women screenwriters and directors who work just as well as men”.

“If you think about it, we need the possibility of being seen. I think the festival should consider this. They should consider the fact that women can make cinema. There is an imbalance and I hope this is beginning [of change],” she added.

The Venice Film Festival will continue until 9th September.

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