Tag Archives: 73rd Venice International Film Festival

Jesus VR – The Story of Christ: a special 40-minute preview of the first feature length Virtual Reality film

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 1.19.26 PMThe 73rd Venice International Film Festival presents the world premiere screening, in a special 40-minute preview, of Jesus VR – The Story of Christ, the first Virtual Reality feature-length film ever made, a new immersive experience that is revolutionizing the world of cinema. The film, which runs 90 minutes, is produced by AUTUMN™ VR Inc. and VRWERX, LLC.

For four days, from September 1st to the 4th, all accredited visitors to the Venice Film Festival are invited to experience this technology applied to the preview of Jesus VR – The Story of Christ, for a short time, or for the entire duration. The screening will be held in the new VR Theatre, on the second floor of the Casinò, which will be equipped with 50 VR Head Gears for individual viewing on seats that pivot 360°.

Festival Director, Alberto Barbera

“We are particularly happy to present the world’s first virtual reality feature film. – declared Alberto Barbera, director of the Venice Film Festival. – JESUS helps show the narrative and spectacular potential of this new technology, which until now has been limited to brief films. The presentation is particularly important because this year the updated film market, now called Venice Production Bridge, is also presenting 6 VR projects among the 40 proposed audiovisual products in search of financing, alongside movies, documentaries, TV series and web series. It is a sign of the attention the Venice Film Festival pays to the sweeping changes which are helping redefine the horizons of the production of images in motion.”

Virtual Reality is a new revolutionary expressive means that is redefining the forms of cinema and the media industry, offering new creative opportunities to directors and artists, to tell new stories and explore original innovative languages.

Jesus VR – The Story of Christ offers audiences an experience that is unparalleled in its immediacy, going back 2,000 years in time to witness the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection, from his baptism to his first miracles, through the last hours of his crucifixion.

Jesus VR – The Story of Christ was shot entirely in Matera in 4K 360° with an all-Italian crew. This is the first and most ambitious feature-length Virtual Reality film ever produced, employing the biggest VR production crew ever, with over a hundred crew members and hundreds of extras.

Enzo Sisti is the executive producer of Jesus VR – The Story of Christ, and in earlier years was the executive producer of The Passion of the Christ (2004). The religious advisor is Father William Fulco, who was also religious advisor on The Passion of the Christ.


Jesus VR – The Story of Christ was directed and produced by David Hansen with his partner Johnny Mac through Autumn™ VR and VRWERX’s Alex Barder and Russell Naftal.

“We’re proud to have shot this entire innovative film in Italy with a mostly Italian crew”, says Executive Producer Enzo Sisti, “It’s fantastic that the first place we’re screening it is in the fabulous Venice International Film Festival.”

Jesus VR – The Story of Christ will be available this Christmas on all major Virtual Reality platforms including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC VIVE.


The Biennale Cinema 2016 will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 10. For more information on tickets click here.




Censored Mohsen Makhmalbaf film to open Venice Classics

The opening film of the Venice Classics section of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival (August 31st – September 10th) is Shabhaye Zayandeh – rood (The Nights of Zayandeh – rood ) by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Thursday 1 September, 3:00 pm, Sala Giardino; Friday 2 September, 9:30 am, Sala Volpi).
This is a film that the director made in Iran in 1990. At the time, the Iranian censorship committee decreed that the film betrayed the spirit of the Iranian revolution and so cut 37 minutes out of the original negative. Even the mutilated version was banned however and all public screenings were prohibited; furthermore, no copies of the film were allowed to be made. In 2016 some parts of the original negative were found in the archives of the Iranian censorship committee. The copy, restored byMakhmalbaf himself, is 63 minutes long instead of the original 100. The missing parts have been lost forever.
Mohsen Makhmalbaf has sent the following account of the story surrounding this film.
It’s easy to silence the filmmaker, but it’s impossible to suppress the cinema
by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
I made The Nights of Zayandeh-rood in 1990 (about 26 years ago) in Iran. After watching the film, the censorship committee in Iran asked me to cut out 25 minutes from the film in order to obtain the screening permission. I refused to accept their order. Nevertheless the committee themselves, having ignored my demand, cut those 25 minutes from the original negative of the film.
I was so heartbroken and frustrated, that I couldn’t think of watching the film with the audience in the cinema. It would have felt like going to see a mutilated and maimed body of a living thing on the screen.

Having heard the censorship news, people poured in tens of thousands to watch the film at its premiere during the Fajr Film Festival in Iran. They lined for kilometres outside the cinemas during the screening day. Some had waited through the whole night until morning to be able to get into the theatre to see the film. Those who managed to watch it, liked the film and perceived the message behind it. In the film, they saw the horrible and sad future which the Islamic government was going to bring for them.
After the festival, the censorship committee asked me to cut a further 12 minutes from the film. Once more I declined, and again the cutting was done without my approval. So the authorities reduced the 100 minutes of the original film into a version of just 63 minutes!

After the festival, the film became well known, and many demanded its screening. However the hard line media belonging to the state, put me and the film under constant attacks and accusations for a full six months! Some even demanded my execution. Eventually I was arrested by the secret police and after long hours of interrogation, all the film material was seized by them.

Finally the Iranian supreme leader wanted to see the film. He watched the film in a private screening in his office. Then he accused it of being against the revolutionary objectives and a threat to national security. Therefore he put a ban order on the film and gave the mutilated negative to the censorship committee to be kept in the archives forever. Subsequently The Nights of Zayandeh-rood was never released from the archives to be screened in any film festival, in or out of Iran. Nor could it be shown to the public.
Twenty six years later (in 2016), the existing negative was stolen and saved from the censorship archives. (I can’t give any details about how this was done.) When after twenty six years I watched the film again, I was surprised to notice that in spite of all the mutilations (nearly one third of the film), the story and the main structure of the film still remained rather unharmed. The film looked like a living thing with no limbs but it was still breathing, and its story and meaning were not lost.
I decided to work on what I had recovered from the remaining negative and the sounds in London. I managed to make the film ready for the screening and sent it to the Venice Film Festival. However the Festival had passed its submission date and was about to announce its lineup and I didn’t expect it to have any chance of being selected this year. Nevertheless, a few hours after the film was sent, I received the following email from Mr. Alberto Barbera, the director of Venice Film Festival.
I’ve just finished watching your beautiful film and am deeply moved! It is really strong, audacious and touching. Thinking that the film has been slaughtered and cut down to 63 minutes makes me crazy! I can only imagine how even greater was the original version. I definitely want to present it in Venice…”
After reading Mr. Barbera’s words, it felt like the film had been given a new life. I remembered the day all those years ago, when the Iranian supreme leader had sent someone from his office to me. His messenger was a clergy man (Mullah), and he was there to make threats about my execution. I replied to him: “It’s easy to silence the filmmaker, but it’s impossible to suppress the cinema.”
August 2016

Iran’s Amir Naderi to receive Venice Film Festival honour

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Michael Rosser

Iranian director Amir Naderi (Vegas, Manhattan by Numbers) is to receive the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker award of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival(August 31-Sept 10), dedicated to a personality who has made an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema.

The prize has previously been awarded to filmmakers and actors including Takeshi Kitano, Abbas Kiarostami, Al Pacino and, last year, Brian De Palma.

Naderi will be awarded the prize in a ceremony to be held September 5 in the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema), before the world premiere of his new film Monte, which plays out of competition.

The film – shot on location in Italy in the mountains of the Alto Adige and Friuli regions – is set in 1350 and tells the story of a man who makes every attempt to bring the sunlight into his village, where his family is barely able to survive because of the prevailing darkness.

Monte was one of the projects selected for the Venice Gap-Financing Market in 2014, a programme launched by the Venice Production Bridge.

Naderi has been among the most influential figures of New Iranian Cinema since the 1970s. He entered the international spotlight with Tangsir (1974), Entezar (1974), awarded the Jury Prize at the Cannes children’s film festival, The Runner (1985) and Ab, Bad, Khak  (1989), which both won the Golden Montgolfiere at Three Continents Festival in Nantes.

The first prominent Iranian director to move abroad in the mid ’80s, Naderi’s US films include Sound Barrier, which won the Roberto Rossellini Critics’ Prize at the Rome Film Festival in 2005, and Vegas: Based on a True Story, which premiered in competition at Venice in 2008.

Cut was shot in Japan and premiered as the opening film of Venice’s Orizzonti section in 2011.

Monte, starring Andrea Sartoretti and Claudia Potenza, marks the first film by Naderi to be set and directed in Italy.

For more information on tickets and passes click here

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

Venice Film Festival Announces Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement


French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski are the recipients of the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.

The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, upon recommendation of the Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera.

The Board of Directors has decided to award two Golden Lions for Career Achievement at every future edition of the Film Festival, starting this year. One will be given to a director or someone from the world of film production; the second will be awarded to an actor or an actress, i.e., to someone who belongs to the world of acting.

Jean-Paul Belmondo, an icon of French and international cinema, is one of the actors who best interpreted the hallmark modernity of the Nouvelle Vague in his representation of alienated characters, in the movies by Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. Says Festival Director Alberto Barbera, “Thanks to his fascinating face, irresistible charm and extraordinary versatility, he has played roles in dramas, adventure movies and even comedies, making him a star who is universally respected, by committed directors and escapist cinema alike.”

Says Festival Director Alberto Barbera, “Jerzy Skolimowski is one of the most representative exponents of the modern cinema born during the nouvelles vagues of the 1960s. He and Roman Polanski are the two filmmakers who contributed most to the renewal of Polish cinema during that same period.” Polanski himself (who called him in to write the screenplay of his debut movie, Knife in the Water) predicted: “Skolimowski will stand head and shoulders above his generation.”

The Biennale Cinema 2016 will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 10. For more information including the screening schedule click here.

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