‘Tutti a casa’ screens Pre-Opening night at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival

I wasn’t disappointed a bit on this one. Quite the opposite. The sanctity of the cinema and the reverence of the Italian audience is a “must experience.”
31/08/2016 13:41: Pre-opening screening – Sala Darsena – Tutti a casa – (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
So after I waited in line for nearly two hours (in position number one), I found an aisle seat with an abundance of leg room. I settled in to hear Festival Director Alberto Barbera and Biennale President Paolo Baratta address the near-capacity audience at the Sala Dardene in Italian. As I am not fluent in Italian, I watched intently for cues in tone and body language. Both men seem to have had something important to say and the manner in which they delivered it made me sense there was a bit of philosophy floating through the sound waves.
Pre-opening screening – Sala Darsena – Tutti a casa, Francesca ed Eleonora Comencini © ASAC, la Biennale di Venezia
Homage was paid to Luigi Comenechi by a few of his relatives, including his beautiful daughter Francesca, in a highly eloquent manner.
Pre-opening screening – Sala Darsena – Tutti a casa – Thierry Frémaux © ASAC, la Biennale di Venezia

The final guest speaker, Thierry Fremaux, gave the audience a quick barrage of words in French on the importance of the Lumiere Brothers work and the nedd for it to be preserved. Mr. Barbera translatedMr. Fremeaux’s French into Italian then followed the French gentleman to his front row seat microphone in hand. With adept timing as Barbera took his seat next to the French gentlemen, the lights dimmed and the screen was illuminated with “Lumiere!”

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To celebrate this important anniversary, on the Pre-opening night of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival (Tuesday August 30th, at 8:30 pm) in the Sala Darsena on the Lido, the public gathered to celebrate Comencini’s one-hundredth birthday. Prior to the screening of the previously announced restored version of Luigi Comencini’s Tutti a casa the audience was invited to enjoy  the program of nine “views” made in Venice by the operators of the Cinématographe Lumière  said  the Director Fremaux of the Institut Lumière of Lyon.

The films, which were made over three consecutive years (1896-98), were:
Arrivée en gondole, 1896, N°291
Pigeons sur la place Saint-Marc,  N°292
Tramway sur le Grand Canal, 1896, N°293
Grand Canal avec barques, 1896, N°294
Panorama du Grand Canal pris d’un bateau, 1896, N°295
Panorama de la place Saint-Marc pris d’un bateau, N°296
Venise, place Saint-Marc, 1897, N°430
Arrivée en gondole des souveraines d’Allemagne et d’Italie au palais royal de Venise, 1898, N°1058
Départ en gondole, 1898, N°1059
The Biennale di Venezia thanked Thierry Fremaux and the Institut Lumière for their valuable collaboration, as well as the Alliance française and Carlo Montanaro of La Fabbrica del Vedere in Venice.
The screening of the “views” will be followed, for the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great director Luigi Comencini (1916 – 2007), by the previously announced screening of Comencini‘s masterpiece Tutti a casa (Everybody Go Home, Italy/France, 1960) starring Alberto Sordi, Serge Reggiani, Carla Gravina and Eduardo De Filippo, produced by Dino De Laurentiis, for the world premiere of the digitally restored copy by Filmauro and CSC – Cineteca Nazionale di Roma.
Venetian audiences were invited to the special Pre-opening tribute-night at the Sala Darsena on the Lido, beginning at 8:30 pm, thanks to the collaboration with the daily newspapers “Il Gazzettino”, “La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre” and “Il Corriere del Veneto”.


Tutti a casa by Luigi Comencini is one of the most famous and successful examples of what made the “commedia all’italiana” immortal: the blend of comedy and drama, of real and grotesque, of courage and determination to survive. Comencini, with the autobiographical complicity of the two great screenwriters Age and Scarpelli and the bitter laughs provoked by the remarkable performance of Alberto Sordi, tells the story of the chaos that ensued on September 8th 1943, when Badoglio signed the armistice and the soldiers loyal to the King and Mussolini were abandoned to their own destinies, to face many dangers alone. In the film, Alberto Sordi, on the phone under German gunfire, asks his superiors: “Colonel, Sir, this is Lieutenant Innocenzi, something amazing just happened, the Germans have become allies of the Americans. What are we supposed to do?”
Tutti a casa is a “road movie” across the ruins and confusion reigning in Italy at that time, when the soldiers had no one to give them orders and one after another they decided to head back home: tutti a casa, everybody go home. In the story, Second Lieutenant Alberto Innocenzi (Sordi), who is used to obeying and not answering back, is abandoned by his soldiers and flees from north to south with his sick friend, the Neapolitan military engineer Ceccarelli (Serge Reggiani). He runs into German soldiers eager for retaliation who shoot at them, witnesses the odyssey of a Jewish girl attempting to escape (for whom a young Venetian soldier gives his life), meets an American prisoner hiding in an attic, is united with his father (Eduardo De Filippo) who wants to send him back to the Fascist army, until the final redemption during the 4 days of Naples. At the time Comencini stated: “On the 8th of September, people were abandoned to themselves, and that is what I wanted to describe”. The film was a box office hit, bringing in over a billion lire in ticket sales.
comencini-thumbLuigi Comencini (1916-2007) who was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 1987 by the Biennale di Venezia, is considered one of the greatest masters of Italian-style comedy, as well as “the children’s director“. Among his comedies, his first masterpiece was Pane, amore e fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams, 1953), with Gina Lollobrigida and Vittorio De Sica, winner of the Silver Bear in Berlin, the prototype for what is known as “neorealismo rosa” and one of the highest-grossing films in the history of Italian cinema, followed over the years by other hit comedies such as Pane, amore e gelosia (Bread, Love and Jealousy, 1954), Mariti in città (Husbands in the City, 1957), Lo scopone scientifico (The Scientific Cardplayer, 1957) and Mio Dio, come sono caduta in basso! (Till Marriage Do Us Part, 1974).
Comencini addressed the theme of childhood early on in 1946 with Bambini in città, his first short documentary (which won an award in Venice and a Nastro d’argento), while Proibito rubare (Hey Boy, 1948), set among the street children in Naples, was his first feature-length film. His significant production of films on the theme of “childhood” continued with La finestra sul Luna Park (The Window to Luna Park, 1956), Incompreso (Misunderstood, 1966, in competition at Cannes and winner of a David di Donatello), Voltati Eugenio (1980, presented at the Venice Film Festival), Un ragazzo di Calabria (A Boy from Calabria, 1987, in competition in Venice) and Marcellino pane e vino (1991) his last film directed with his daughter Francesca. Also worthy of note are his versions of two classics of children’s literature, such as Le avventure di Pinocchio (The Adventures of Pinocchio, 1972) and Cuore (1984).
A co-founder in 1935 with Alberto Lattuada and Mario Ferrari of the Cineteca italiana in Milan, Comencini directed a total of forty feature-length films, excluding his documentaries, screenplays, and investigative reports for Rai television. He experimented with many genres other than comedy, such as murder mysteries (La donna della domenica, The Sunday Woman, 1975), melodrama (Incompreso, 1966), literary films (La ragazza di Bube, 1963), period films (Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova veneziano, 1974), film-operas (La Bohème,  1987), but also experimented with more particular films (Cercasi Gesù, 1982, winner of a Nastro d’argento). In an interview he granted in the early 1980s, Comencini declared that he was willing to defend ten of his films, that “would never have seen the light of day if I had not made other flawed films, wholly or in part. But I have never made a film in bad faith”.
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Last Day to Save 25% on 2017 #SBIFF Passes

Last Day to Save 25% on 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Passes through August 31, 2016 at http://www.sbiff.org or (805) 963-0023.


unnamedHere are the passes:


CONCIERGE PASS ~ $5,000 (no discount)

Admits one (1) Passholder with priority admission with RESERVED seating to:
• All Film Screenings
• Opening Night Film & Gala
• Closing Night Film & Party
• All Panel Discussions
• All Tribute Events
• Festival Pavilion (daily Happy Hours and post Tribute Parties)
• Club 85 (pre Tribute Receptions)
• All private VIP after parties
• Personal concierge service
• Private gifting from Festival sponsors
• Easy access parking
• A portion of this purchase may be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Admits one (1) Passholder with priority admission to:
• all Film Screenings
• Opening Night Film & Gala
• Closing Night Film & Party
• all Panel Discussions
• all Tribute Events
• Festival Pavilion (daily Happy Hours and post Tribute Parties)



Admits one (1) Passholder with priority admission after Platinum Passes to:
• all Film Screenings
• Opening Night Film & Gala
• Closing Night Film (no party)
• Festival Pavilion up to 3:30pm



Admits one (1) Passholder with priority admission after Cinema Passes to:
• all Film Screenings BEFORE 4:01pm and AFTER 7:59pm
• Opening Night Film (no Gala)
• Closing Night Film (no Party)
• Festival Pavilion up to 3:30pm
• NOT VALID for any screening between 4:01pm and 7:59pm



• 2 tickets to each Celebrity Tribute Event
• 2 tickets to Opening Night Film + Gala
• 2 tickets to Closing Night Film
• 1-10 film MiniPak



• 2 tickets to each Panel Event
• 2 tickets to Opening Night Film + Gala
• 2 tickets to Closing Night Film
• 1-10 film MiniPak



• 2 tickets to Opening Night Film + Gala
• 2 tickets to Closing Night Film
• 1-10 film MiniPak


August 31: Opening of the 73rd Venice Film Festival

The 73rd Venice International Film Festival, organized by La Biennale di Venezia, will run at Venice Lido from August 31st to September 10th, 2016, directed by Alberto Barbera.

The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote the various aspects of international cinema in all its forms: as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. The Festival also organizes retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards a better understanding of the history of cinema.

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(Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/La Biennale di Venezia)

73rd Venice International Film Festival


Screening schedule

Screenings by Director / by Title

International Juries

Introduction by the President of La Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta
Introduction by the Director, Alberto Barbera
Productions and co-productions of the films in the official selection
Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement: Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jerzy Skolimowski
Web Theatre: online screening for 18 feature films in the line-up
Lido in Mostra” project: Services and special offers for the public, young people and accredited visitors
Calendar of events, presentations and talks

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Venice film festival: Hollywood looks to Italy for Oscars launchpad

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Andrew Pulver

The last two best picture Oscar-winners have premiered at Venice, part of a concerted bid to woo Hollywood that has revitalised the festival. LA-set musical La La Land, opening proceedings this year, is looking for the hat-trick.

Final preparations for the red carpet at Lido. (Photo credit: Claudio Onorati/EPA)


As the summer ends, so begins the autumn film-festival season, more than ever inextricably linked with the end-of-year scrabble for awards that culminates in the Oscars in February 2017. The first shots have been fired, pundits are already talking up potential contenders, and the slow rollout of the actual films has begun. However, no single showcase has proved more talismanic in recent years than the Venice film festival, which has hosted the world premiere of the best picture Oscar winner for the last two years in succession – Spotlight and Birdman – and the biggest winner, numerically speaking, the year before that, with Gravity.


This year, Venice’s big pitch for Oscar augury is La La Land, a Los Angeles-set musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and directed by Damien Chazelle as a follow-up to his remarkable jazz-class drama Whiplash; La La Land has been given the prestigious opening-gala slot. Described by the Venice film festival’s director Alberto Barbera as “a wonderful film, a classical musical, and a marvellous tribute to American cinema from a contemporary perspective”, La La Land would appear to have instantly surged into the front rank of awards season contenders. Barbera is diffident as to Venice’s ability to confer automatic Oscar-statuette potential on to his picks – “I’ve been lucky for the last three years; I couldn’t have imagined when I first saw Gravity or Birdman they would win all those Oscars” – but admits he has put considerable effort into attracting major Hollywood players in recent years.

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Ryan Gossling and Emma Stone in La La Land. (Photo Credit: Dale Robinette/AP)

“We want Venice to be an important launching pad, the opening of the season, the real beginning of the race for the Oscar.” As well as making regular trips to New York and Los Angeles to chat up studio executives and preview material, Barbera says “we have invested a lot: we renovated the theatres, improved the quality of the screenings, as well as the general location and the services we are able to offer industry visitors.” By the latter, he means such initiatives as a fully fledged film market, which has been operating since 2012, and which has morphed into a production and development programme called Venice Production Bridge, or a “gap-financing” platform for film-makers looking for extra investment.

Barbera’s prescience has also proved crucial in Venice’s increasingly effective ability to fight its corner against its direct competitors in the film festival calendar: the boutique event in Telluride, Colorado, which begins on 2 September, and the giant-scale Toronto film festival, which kicks off on 8 September. As recently as 2012, industry observers considered that Venice appeared to be lagging well behind, trading on its reputation as the world’s oldest festival (having been founded in 1932) but struggling to attract the best films. But now the position is almost completely reversed, with Barbera making the case successfully to Hollywood producers that the extra expense of sending a film to Italy is worth it.

“Five years ago, the competition with Toronto and Telluride was very strong. For the American majors it was clear that it was easier, and cheaper, to take their films to Toronto. They could make the promotion for their domestic campaign for their films, and start their campaign for the Oscar.” Venice’s old-world glamour has been transformed into a potent weapon – “all the talent are happy to come to Venice, they like Cipriani’s, the hotels, the food and so on, the red carpet here you cannot get with our competitors” – as well as its more selective programme based around the competition for the Golden Lion. “It’s very different,” says Barbera, “from arriving in Toronto in the middle of 300 films, where you risk getting lost in a huge lineup.”

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander in The Light Between Oceans (Photo credit: Allstar/Touchstone Pictures)


Perhaps even more important than the intra-festival politicking over world premieres is the current wealth of American cinema in general, which means Venice’s wooing of Hollywood is paying off. In Barbera’s words: “This is a very strong period for American cinema – [there] are lot of big, big films around.” La La Land will be joined on the Lido by the likes of The Light Between Oceans, the heartrending weepie starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, Terrence Malick’s documentary Voyage of Time, Nocturnal Animals, the second film from fashion designer Tom Ford, and Arrival, a first-contact alien sci-fi thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve.

Inevitably, other areas of the film-making universe appear relatively neglected, with Venice unable to command quite the same level of participation from the elite of international auteur directors as Cannes – though Barbera is emphatic he is not competing with the venerable French festival staged each May. “Cannes comes before us in the year. The studios don’t like to show a film too far ahead of its release, so Venice is better for the American films that want to come out in the autumn. The films that are ready in the first half of the year go to Cannes: it is a matter of timing.”

Perhaps more surprising is Venice’s difficult relationship with its domestic industry. Not only do the most venerated contemporary Italian directors – Paolo Sorrentino, Nanni Moretti, Matteo Garrone – reserve their work primarily for Cannes, but those that do venture to Venice, such as Luca Guadagnino, can receive distinctly chilly receptions:  Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash was booed at its premiere last year. Barbera is resigned to what he calls a “prejudice” on the part of the Italian film industry who are unwilling, he suggests, to grapple with a hostile press corps. On the other hand, he says he rejects numerous home films for “not being strong enough”. A special screening of the first two episodes of Sorrentino’s new TV drama The Young Pope, featuring Jude Law, may go some way to healing the breach.

Barbera may also be playing with fire by programming Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s first film as director since a series of public controversies – including an anit-semitic outburst during a DUI arrest in 2006 and accusations of abuse against his then-partner Oksana Grigorieva. Hacksaw Ridge is the story of Medal of Honor-winning conscientious objector Desmond T Doss, and Barbera says its inclusion is “a quality issue”. “I was worried, of course, for all the reasons you expect, but when I saw the full film, I didn’t have any doubts.”

  • The Venice film festival runs from 31 August-10 September.


Work wrapping up at Lido for Venice Film Festival

Workers wrapping up the day at the Lido Casino for the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. Opening night is slated for August 31st, 2016. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Workers have begun wrapping it up at Lido for the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. A Pre-opening Night film showcase featuring the historic works from the Lumiere Brothers on “views” of Venice, shot and constructed over a three year period from 1896 through 1898 jump starts this year’s event with an 8:30PM Invitation-only SCEENING at Sala Darsena. Furthermore, in recognition of Luigi Comencini’s one-hundreth birthday, a screening of his Tutti a casa, will accompany the Lumiere Brothers” Venice.  The Festival has decided to cancel the Opening Night Gala out of respect for the earthquake victims in Amatrice. Nevertheless, the line-up  features 20 films vying for this year’s Golden Lion. Each and every one of this year’s selection is a bona-fied contender.

In addition, Virtual reality has found a home with Jesus VR – The Story of Christ. A special 40 minute preview of the first feature length virtual reality film will be available for viewing on the 2nd floor of the Casino beginning September 1st.

Even though La La Land, the Opening Night Film, and Jackie, a hot ticket item,  are not receiving the studios significant marketing and publicity efforts here at Lido this year, The Light Between Oceans, is generating heightened buzz commisserate with the blossoming chemistry, on and off-screen, between the film’s dynamic co-stars, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.

As with any festival, surprises are waiting to be unveiled. Who or what is waiting for the opportunity at Lido? A wise place to look is the New York Film Academy Student Showcase.

(Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
For information on tickets click here!

This 73rd edition of the Venice Film Festival seems to be offering something for everyone. On September 2nd, Dawn of the Dead restored in 4K , has the midnight madness audience licking its chops. Following on the heels of the restored Dawn of the Dead is the Final Cut in Venice  workshop from Septmber 3rd through September 5th as part of the Venice Production Bridge. In keeping in line with keeping it fresh, the festival continues to explore its international audiences with its 5th Sala Web offering film lovers from around the world the opportunity to see world premieres and to follow the Biennale buzz on www.festivalscope.com/venicesalaweb2016. The Venice Classics section is screening the censored Moshen Makhamalbaf film, Shabhaye Zayandeh – rood (The Nights of Zayandeh – rood ). Last but not least, the independently run Venice Days section is launching 18 world premieres.

See you at the movies!




Australian films on the world stage at Venice and Toronto film festivals

Posted by Larry Gleeson


Post by Stephanie Bunburry

With three Australian films screening in the Venice Film Festival and four features and a short film at Toronto International Film Festival, September will be something of a bumper month for the local industry.

Venice is the world’s oldest film festival, with a prestigious competition. Toronto’s only prize is its audience award, but it has set a precedent as the effective launching pad for Hollywood’s awards seasons, with many of the industry’s most Oscar-worthy films screening there first. The mass conversation about movies may have shifted to the internet but, for films that are not part of a critic-proof comic franchise, that has only made the stamp of approval from a top festival more important.

In Venice, the Mel Gibson war drama Hacksaw Ridge, crime thriller Hounds of Love and Boys in the Trees, a supernatural coming-of-age film, will all have their world premieres. Hacksaw Ridge is about an American conscientious objector (played by British actor Andrew Garfield) whose bravery as an unarmed medic on the field of battle earned him a Congressional medal of honour. It was written, financed and filmed in Australia. “It’s an Australian film about America,” said Gibson in a recent interview. “It’s a fully Aussie-funded film. It’s really interesting.”

Hacksaw Ridge is also – along with opening-night film La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle of Whiplash fame, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi Arrival and Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, which features Natalie Portman as the former First Lady – one of the few really big-ticket films showing on the Lido. Increasingly, Venice is largely a showcase for European arthouse, with a few high-end Hollywood films adding glitter to the festival’s red carpets in exchange for some take-away Euro gravitas. The studios are not even bothering to do press in Venice for La La Land or Jackie; that all happens in Toronto.

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The Venice festival’s most hotly-anticipated film comes from an experimental American director; coincidentally, it also has its origins in Australia. Derek Cianfrance’s Light Between Oceans, starring Michael Fassbender and Alice Vikander, is based on Western Australian writer M.L. Stedman’s hit historical romance novel of the same name. It is set in a fictional lighthouse somewhere near Cape Leeuwin, although it was shot in New Zealand and Tasmania.

Nicholas Verso’s Boys in the Trees, which is screening in Horizons, the more experimental section, is more the kind of film festivals expect from Australia: smaller, quirky, peopled with ordinary Joes who could be our neighbours. It features a couple of quarrelling skater boys who get lost after a school leaving party unwisely held on Halloween. Hounds of Love, which screens as part of the Venice Days program that runs alongside the main festival, is another story from WA. In a different way from Boys in the Trees, it is also a horror film. It revolves around a young woman abducted by a strange couple who realizes she must play mind-games with her captors to survive.

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Boys in the Trees has been selected for Toronto too, along with three other features. Ivan Sen’s cop drama Goldstone, already seen in Australia, is one of them. Sotiris Dounoukis’ Joe Cinque’s Consolation, which recently screened at the Melbourne Film Festival, is based on Helen Garner’s closely argued examination of the real-life case of a Canberra student whose mounting insanity plans to kill her boyfriend were simply ignored by her circle of friends.

The most prominent film in the Toronto pack is Lion, directed by Garth Davis from Saroo Brierley’s book about his return from his home in Australia to India to search for his birth parents. Nicole Kidman stars as his adoptive mother in Australia; Dev Patel, who rose to international fame in Slumdog Millionaire, is the searching son. The short film Trespass, about an encounter between two women in the bush and directed by Animal Kingdom actor Mirrah Foulkes, rounds out Toronto’s Australian contingent.

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First comes Venice, however, which officially begins on Wednesday night. The usual gala opening party has been cancelled out of respect for the Amatrice earthquake victims; there will be no fireworks over the lagoon this year. The Venice Film Festival, even more than Cannes, has always been unrepentantly glamorous. How much the overall tone of the event will change in the wake of the disaster only 500 kilometres away remains to be seen; it is hard to imagine, however, that the flow of prosecco will stop entirely.

(Source: http://www.smh.com.au)

TCM Classic Film Festival Runs April 6-9

Posted by Larry Gleeson


By Michael Malone


The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival will be held April 6-9 in Hollywood and will bear the theme “Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies.” The gathering of filmmakers, performers and fans for screenings and panels will represent the eighth TCM film fest.

TCM, part of Turner, described the films to be showcased as being “from lowbrow to high, slapstick to sophisticated comedies of manners” and said the 2017 festival “will showcase the greatest cinematic achievements of lone clowns, comedic duos and madcap ensembles.”

Tickets go on sale in November.

The 2016 festival, held in Hollywood, had the theme “Moving Pictures” and focused on rousing, inspiring and emotionally stirring films.

(Source: http://www.broadcastingcable.com)


See you at the movies!

HollywoodGlee takes direction on “set” at the TCM Backlot in the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel lobby.



Northern Ireland Student selected for Venice Days jury

Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) has, for the second time, had one of its movie lovers chosen to represent the UK at Europa Cinemas’ 28 Times Cinema initiative. This year Steven Armour, a Queen’s University graduate and former member of QFT’s Takeover Film club, will represent QFT as a member of the Venice Days jury during the Venice Film Festival between 31st August – 11th September.


28 Times Cinema gives 28 young people from across Europe the opportunity to gain in-depth experience of the world famous Venice Film Festival. QFT is one of 28 cinemas from across the European Union states to be selected to send a young movie goer to spend ten days at the festival watching the Venice Days film selection and sharing their opinions and ideas.

Marion Campbell, QFT Learning Offcier said ‘We are all very proud of Steven! He will represent the UK and Queen’s Film Theatre during the Venice Days and watch all the films presented at Venice Days and the LUX film Prize 2016 Competition. While at the film festival, he will have the chance to meet international filmmakers and other film industry professionals and will be writing an online blog on his experiences.’

Following a tough selection process Steven was the one successful candidate selected from the UK and he is looking forward to the experience. “It’s an amazing opportunity to represent the UK as part of this year’s 28 Times Cinema initiative. Cinema has been a passion of mine from a young age, and so to have this chance to attend one of the world’s best film festivals is a dream come true. I can’t wait to join the 27 other young cinephiles from across Europe to watch new films, work together as a jury, and write reviews, gaining invaluable experience for my future aspirations of working in film.”


Susan Picken, Head of QFT recognises how important opportunities like this can be, “To have the chance to attend such a prestigious Film Festival in this way at the start of your career is priceless. The experience and the networking opportunities that this presents are not to be taken for granted and I know that Steven will make the most of every moment.”


(Source: http://www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk)


Virtual reality gets starring role at Venice film festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Vanessa Thorpe

There will be a special salon at the event for viewing increasingly ambitious productions in the new immersive format.

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Venice, first of the big autumn film festivals, is the most glamorous, attracting big stars to Europe’s most beguiling location. But this year, virtual reality technology could steal the limelight from all the talent posing on the Rialto.

The film, Jesus VR- The Story of Christ, is too be unveiled at the festival on Thursday, marks the biggest investment so far in bringing the immersive world of virtual reality to mainstream cinema. The US-backed film will be 90 minutes long when it is released this Christmas, but 40 minutes are to be previewed in Venice for anyone quick enough to grab a headset. Filmed in 360 degrees, it places its audience as spectators at the nativity, and takes them right through to the resurrection. The film is Venice festival’s way of saying that the future has arrived.

“Just as 3D cinema offered a way to draw audiences that had been lost to television back to the cinema, in the 1950s, so VR provides a unique selling point in the battle against the ubiquity and accessibility of online content,” said film and gaming expert Michael Pigott of Warwick University. “VR certainly offers a form of entertainment experience that is new and striking, but perhaps of equal importance is the fact it is tied to technology. Entertainment companies can market a unique experience that audiences can only have if they go to a VR-capable cinema or purchase the requisite headset and hardware.”

Although Imax cinemas are billing their VR theatres as alternatives to the solitary headset experience, up until now consumers have had to shell out for a VR system like Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard or the HTC Vive.

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This spring, the Cannes film festival also gave more space than usual to VR, showing more than 35 new short films. But it is Venice that has really welcomed the format, setting up a special viewing salon. So, despite deciding to call off the festival’s opening celebrations out of respect for the Umbrian earthquake victims, Venice will still be watched closely in the wider film world to see how sceptical critics react to VR.

The big question remains: does anything yet bridge the divide between the worlds of gaming and cinema? At Cannes, Steven Spielberg was not convinced. He said he felt VR was even potentially “dangerous” because it let the viewer “forget the story”. Alongside naysayers like Spielberg is Pixar’s co-founder, Ed Catmull: “It’s not storytelling. People have been trying to do [VR] storytelling for 40 years. They haven’t succeeded,” he said last year.

Videogaming, he believes, is the natural home for the technology. “It’s its own art form, though, and it’s not the same as a linear narrative.”

Yet Pigott points out there are two ways that VR is already providing new kinds of storytelling: experiments in a kind of “light” interactivity that allows the viewer limited control over their point of view within a film; and a stronger version, where the viewer can explore a fictional world – something that many video games, such as GTA 5 or The Last of Us, already permit, if only in an animated form, rather than a photographic world.

Lucasfilm has played around with Google’s Cardboard headset kit, making a short VR video called Jakku Spy, which it released before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while newcomer Baobab Studios has made a six-minute film called Invasion! It was presented at Cannes by Eric Darnell, the co-director of animated hit Madagascar, who told reporters it was not an extension of cinema, but “a brand new language”.


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This month, a pop-up event in Los Angeles showcased The Turning Forest, an adventure made by Oscar Raby in which the viewer partners up with strange creatures to activate musical cues together. Another new short film, Tendril Studios’ Sankhara, makes the viewer a space traveller who returns to Earth, inspired by TS Eliot’s poem Four Quartets.

Oculus, bought by Facebook for $2Billion, has set up a Story Studio division and followed up on a release last year, Lost, with Henry – “a heartwarming comedy about a loveable hedgehog”.

Oculus’s new owner, Mark Zuckerberg, has no doubts about the importance of VR, but emphasises its impact on health and education, and watching sport, rather than film. “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, or studying in a [global] classroom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting a doctor – just by putting on goggles in your home,” he wrote.

Optimists about the potential influence of VR on cinema believe it is a matter of learn to tell a story in a more complex way, something that great novelists have always done and that immersive theatre companies like Punchdrunk now also practice successfully.

Ultimately, Pigott suspects that both VR and conventional film will find a way to coexist, like cinema and TV have. “These were two very different mediums, and it turned out there was room for both. It is less a question of technologies, than of different modes of storytelling and spectacle, and … one is unlikely to simply replace the other,” he said.


Why the Venice Film Fest Matters More to Oscar (Sorry, Toronto)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Ariston Anderson

After premiering three major Academy Award winners in a row, the world’s oldest film fest is once again Hollywood’s awards-season launchpad.

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The past few years, while Toronto bickered with Telluride over which festival could screen which premiere when and where, Venice — after some decidedly lackluster editions — took the high road and worked on improving. The result? It’s back on top after a scorecard that saw successful Oscar wins for Venice premieres three years in a row: Gravity, Birdman and, last year, Spotlight. Hollywood has taken notice. The festival is filled with studio titles this year, which means the red carpet will be filled with A-list talent. The four premieres that already are garnering awards buzz:

La La Land’s Oscar Launch

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With Venice proving to be a good luck charm at the Oscars, one young contender seems to be taking the hint. Damien Chazelle is following up his 2014 best picture nominee Whiplash with festival opener La La Land. The musical stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Emma Stone). The Venice committee, after watching the film, immediately offered Lionsgate the opening slot. “I was so honored to get the invitation to open Venice,” says Chazelle. “It’s the kind of place that seems to belong in a dream. That’s the feeling I wanted to capture with this movie: the way things look and sound in a dream, the magic and the romance of it all.”

Chazelle adds that it was a natural choice to follow up his critically acclaimed Whiplash with the challenging genre of the musical. “The thing I love about musicals is that everything is possible. You can combine all the arts — music, dance, painting, theater —  to collectively produce an emotion that can’t be conveyed by words,” he says. “I wanted to try and make a film that told an honest, intimate story but also allowed for that kind of big-screen moviemaking.”

Festival director Alberto Barbera believes that the film, a tribute to old Hollywood musicals, is a natural candidate for the Oscars. “It has all the elements,” he says. “It’s a wonderful story, a classic film. It’s extremely well done with two outstanding lead performances. You have to go back to the ’60s and ’70s to see something that is similar to those performances. It has beautiful music, beautiful dance performances. Everything in the film is definitely outstanding.”

While Lionsgate is planning a big launch at the festival, unfortunately Gosling will not be present, as he couldn’t escape filming duties for Blade Runner 2. Stone will be back in Venice after her 2014 success with Birdman led her to an Oscar nomination.

Mel’s Big Comeback

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After a public meltdown of epic proportions, Mel Gibson retreated from the spotlight, putting his work behind the camera on hold. Now Venice is premiering his first directorial effort since Apocalypto (2006). Never one to retreat from challenging topics, Gibson explores the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, in the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.

“The movie is special,” says Stuart Ford, CEO of IM Global, which co-financed the film, putting up approximately half of the budget. “Audiences can look forward to a picture that is both an old-school, action-packed wartime epic and also an intelligent and very moving present day statement on the nature of conflict and forgiveness.”

Barbera firmly believes the film marks Gibson’s comeback. “There is a high expectation of course after the previous films and all the issues around his bizarre attitude. I didn’t know what I was going to say when I saw the film,” he says. “I was quite surprised because it is a beautiful, classic war film about a courageous hero and the capability to put one’s own life before others. I think it’s proved that he’s a really great director and I hope that it will forgive some mistakes that he did and some unacceptable behaviors in the past.”

Paolo Sorrentino’s TV Debut

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It’s not just films that are having their moment in Venice. HBO’s launch of Olive Kitteridge in Venice led it to pick up eight Emmy awards last year. As more and more acclaimed cinema directors make the leap into longform TV, all eyes will be on Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino’s TV debut The Young Pope, starring Jude Law as a fictional American pope who is conservative, politically conniving, and incredibly self-reflective. The production is a joint effort of HBO, Sky and Canal Plus.

The Young Pope is a 10-part series but at the same time is a collection of 10 movies, each of them with Sorrentino’s unique flair and enthusiasm in innovating visual storytelling, featuring an inimitable top-notch technical and quality style and starring an outstanding international cast,” says Andrea Scrosati, executive vp programming of Sky Italia says. “So there could not be a more suitable venue than the Venice Film Festival to premiere the first two episodes of this show, and this choice confirms, if any additional proof were needed, that the distinction between cinema and television no longer exists: It all comes down to storytelling.”

FremantleMedia International, which is handling sales, has, not surprisingly, already begun closing deals ahead of the Venice launch. “Jude Law plays a hyper-contemporary and conservative pope, revolutionary, a fundamentalist who goes through life with an absolute faith and devotion to God,” says Lorenzo Mieli, CEO of FremantleMedia Italy. “And all the while he continuously poses to himself and to us the question we are all compelled to ask at least once in our lives: What do we mean exactly when we talk about faith and God? Stories and themes like these inevitably involve a wide audience from each country.”

Sorrentino agrees with the potential wide appeal of the series. “Beyond the interest for the Vatican, a closed and mysterious place, the series turns its attention to the Vatican’s inhabitants,” he says. “I think that the audience, regardless of where they’re from, will be captivated by the human and spiritual lives of these people.”

And with the American election coming up, Sorrentino believes that the candidates could also heed the advice of The Young Pope. “There is always danger around the corner,” he says. “The private biography of a leader can influence his choices for the collective interest of the people and that these choices could be dangerous and ineffective.”

Focus Features’ $20 Million Gamble

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Last year, Focus Features paid a reported $20 million for Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford’s sophomore directorial effort.

Now, Focus is planning on betting a big chunk of their Oscar-campaign money on the dark romance based on Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan and starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Adams plays an art gallery owner who receives her ex-husband’s violent manuscript in the mail, which she interprets as a threatening tale of revenge and regret. It plays out as a story within a story as Isla Fisher plays Adams in novel form.

Could the L.A.-set noir finally deliver Amy Adams and/or Jake Gyllenhaal their long-awaited Oscars? Focus hopes so, with many more categories to push for. “The film will be one of the highlights of Venice,” says Barbera. “Both Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal could start an Oscar campaign from Venice, definitely.”