@la_biennale History – the 1940’s with moving pictures

On June 10th, 1940, Italy declared war: the echoes of the conflict were heard at the Venice Film Festival, though in terms that were still triumphant. The Minister Alessandro Pavolini came to Venice, to participate in a special screening for the soldiers at the Teatro Rossini: “When he appeared on the central stage”, reports the announcer, “the 500 soldiers that crowded the theatre jumped to their feet to acclaim him. A salute to the king and to the Duce introduced the world premiere screening of the festival dedicated with brotherly solidarity to our soldiers on land, sea and sky”.

Rigorous climate of war at the Venice Film Festival, in which “seventeen nations which embrace all of Europe in its active, healthy, working part”, says the announcer. The clip shows Ministers Pavolini and Goebbels at a performance reserved for the armed forces and the screening of the German film Ritorno.


The first post-war Venice Film Festival espoused the “principle of quality”, “which alone can inspire the new civilization for which millions and millions of men fought and died”, says the announcer. In the film clip from the Archivio Storico Luce we can see, among others, the first President of the Italian Republic Enrico De Nicola, the Minister Pietro Nenni, the President of the Biennale Giovanni Ponti, Count Zorzi and Massimo Bontempelli. The inaugural event features screenings of the documentary films L’Italia s’é desta and Blood and Sand by Rouben Mamoulian. “People in cinema”, recites the clip, “made peace long ago with Italy, and the programme of the Venice Film Festival is here to prove it: Great Britain, Russia, the United States, France and Sweden have sent the best of their production”.


Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 4.09.19 PMAlida Valli in the Sala Grande in 1946 for the presentation of Eugenia Grandet (Eugenie Grandet) by Mario Soldati: the first edition after the War was a temporary festival that awarded no prizes, just a series of special mentions.

In 1948 the Venice Film Festival returned to the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido, after temporarily moving to its location in the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. “The honour of opening the Festival”, says the announcer, “went at random to the English film The Red Shoes, by Powell and Pressburger. The most prestigious film competition in the world promises this year to be of exceptional importance”.

1948: twenty-nine year old Giulio Andreotti, Under-secretary of State for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, attends one of the screenings at the Venice Film Festival. That year Hamlet by Laurence Olivier triumphed as Best Film and Jean Simmons, in the role of Ophelia, won the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress.

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The Shah of Persia visits Venice for the Film Festival, from the “monumental” city to the “resort” area on the Lido. The clip also shows Anna Magnani, the star of Roberto Rossellini’s Amore, Orson Welles, Lea Padovani.



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Orson Welles and Darryl F. Zanuck on the beach on the Lido in 1948. Welles was in Venice to present Macbeth in competition, Zanuck was producing The Snake Pit by Anatole Litvak, which the following year would win the Coppa Volpi as Best Actress for Olivia de Havilland.







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