Tag Archives: Louis Malle

The 80s – History of the Venice Film Festival

 Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 2.06.35 PMIt took Carlo Lizzani, director from 1979 to 1982, to win back international prestige for the Festival, flanking films in competition with significant retrospectives, sections devoted to experimentation (“Officina”) and most importantly the new section “Mezzogiorno-Mezzanotte” devoted to spectacular films (Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T.), remakes (Vertigo, Leave Her to Heaven) or eccentrics, ideated by the great, late critic Enzo Ungari. The formula inaugurated by the Lizzani-Ungari duo was to become a model for festivals throughout the world.
In 1980 the Golden Lion was re-introduced, with an ex aequo award for Louis Malle (Atlantic City) and John Cassavetes (Gloria). Over these years Venice helped establish New German Cinema throughout the world. Filmmakers such as Wim Wenders and Margarethe Von Trotta (the first woman to win the Golden Lion) received the highest recognition at the Festival, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) was screened in episodes to great acclaim while the controversial Querelle de Brest, presented in ’82, a matter of months after the death of the director, divided the jury when it did not win the Golden Lion.
The new course was consolidated in 1983, under the direction of Gian Luigi Rondi. The Festivals were numbered once again, expanded organization planned for, the sections were made permanent fixtures and greater attention given to the masters of cinema from the past and present. Godard won in ’83 with Prénom Carmen, Zanussi in ’84 with A Year of the Quiet Sun, Agnes Varda in ’85 with Vagabonde, Rohmer in ’86 with Le rayon vert. 1984 saw the creation of SIC, the International Critics’ Week, run independently by the National Italian Film Critics Union and devoted to debut and second works.
Guglielmo Biraghi, writer and film critic for the Rome daily “Il Messaggero”, not to mention director of the Taormina Festival, became the 14th director of the Venice Festival in 1987. Widely travelled and a great linguist, Biraghi (who passed away in 2001) distinguished his mandate (extended for five festivals up until 1991) with a taste for experimentation and discovering unusual filmmakers and types of cinema. Biraghi’s first Festival featured a competition line-up of an Indian, Lebanese, Swiss, Norwegian, Korean and Turkish film. In 1989 he presented O Recado das Ilhas by Ruy Duarte de Carvalho, the very first film from the Cape Verde islands ever to be screened at an international festival.
Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 2.05.13 PMWell organized and with a workable programme (competition, International Critics’ Week, tribute to Mankiewicz), appreciated by the experts (Biraghi’s nomination was given full backing by the Union of Critics), Biraghi’s first Festival assigned an award to festival veteran Louis Malle (Au revoir les enfants), discovered Carlo Mazzacurati in the Critics’ Week (Notte italiana), presented important films such as The Untouchables by Brian De Palma, The Dead by John Huston and The House of Games by David Mamet. Considerable hue and cry was caused by the “experiment” Giulia e Giulia, a film by Peter Del Monte produced by the Rai (Italian National Broadcasting) and shot with “high definition” cameras, though it did not receive critical acclaim.
In ’88 Biraghi enriched the programme with the sections “Orizzonti”, “Notte” and the “Eventi speciali”, including the film The Last Temptation by Martin Scorsese. A sentimental-erotic re-interpretation of the final days of Christ, the film stirred up a hornet’s nest of polemics in religious circles in both America and Italy, before it was screened in Venice. The film was screened in its entirety in the Palazzo del Cinema, protected as if it were a bunker, and Scorsese outlined the artistic reasons behind his choice at a crowded but orderly press conference. The 1988 Festival saw the discovery of the talent of Pedro Almodovar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and a comedy of international success A Fish Called Wanda. 1989 on the other hand was the year of Polish director Kieslowski and his Dekalog (Ten Commandments), one of which was shown each day, dividing the interest of both public and press. Together with Kieslowski, the start of the Festival was Nanni Moretti with his much-debated Palombella rossa excluded from the official selection but presented in the International Critics’ Week.
(Source:www.biennale.org)

History of the Venice Film Festival – the 40s and the 50s

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 7.07.12 AMBecause of the war, few countries participated in the 1940, 1941 and 1942 Festivals, not taken into consideration later on, with the dominating presence of the members of the Alliance. Following the war pause, the Festival was held again in 1946 with screenings at Cinema San Marco (the Palazzo del Cinema had been requisitioned by the Allies).
In 1946, in view of an agreement with Cannes, which had held its first festival that year in the spring, a simple transitory festival was organized in September. The 1947 Festival was held in the splendid setting of the courtyard of the Ducal Palace, with a record audience of 90,000. It was one of the best festivals and saw the return of the USSR and the new “popular democracies” including Czechoslovakia, which won first prize for Siréna by Karel Stekly. That year the international jury was reinstated to assign the International Grand Prix of Venice. Up until 1948 the director was Elio Zorzi, a Venetian.
Proceedings were transferred permanently back to the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido in 1949, and the Golden Lion of St. Mark introduced for best film.
During the Fifties the Festival experienced a period of international expansion, with the affirmation of new types of film (Japanese, Indian), and the arrival of leading directors and film stars. The Festival director’s chair was occupied by Antonio Petrucci (from 1949 to 1953), Ottavio Croze (1954 and 1955), Floris Ammannati (from 1956 to 1959) and Emilio Lonero in 1960.
Over the years the Festival has had a noteworthy influence on the history of world cinema. Japanese cinema has become well known in the West mostly thanks to the Golden Lion awarded to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon in 1951, and successively through the Silver Lions won by Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) and Sanshô Dayû (1954) by Kenji Mizoguchi, not to mention the presence of films such as Biruma no Tategoto (1956) by Kon Ichikawa. It was the same case for Indian film, Golden Lion in 1957 to Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito. Eastern European cinema was brought to world attention partly through the Grand Prix awarded to the film Siréna (1947) by Karel Stekly (Czechoslovakia), and later thanks to the presence of emerging filmmakers such as Andrzey Waida (Popiól i diament, 1959).
Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 7.05.58 AMAfter the first neo-realist films were shown at the Festival (Paisà by Roberto Rossellini and Il sole sorge ancora by Aldo Vergano in 1946, La terra trema by Luchino Visconti in 1948), a number of foremost Italian figures were recognised as leading talents in the ’50s and ’60s: Fellini, Antonioni, Rosi, Olmi, Bertolucci, Pasolini, Vancini, De Seta, and Zurlini. The fact that Luchino Visconti did not receive the Golden Lion for Senso in 1954 nor for Rocco e i suoi fratelli in 1960 led to heated debate. Visconti was to be awarded the top prize in 1964 for Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa.
French cinema marked decisive steps in the Festival history, with the presence of directors such as Jean Renoir (The Southerner, 1946), Henri-Georges Clouzot (Manon, 1949), Robert Bresson (Journal d’un curé de campagne, 1951), Marcel Carnè (Theresa Raquin, 1953), Louis Malle (Les amants, 1958), Alain Resnais (L’année dernière à Marienbad, 1961) and Jean-Luc Godard (Vivre sa vie, 1962; La chinoise, 1967).
Great figures in world cinema received awards with significant works: Carl Theodor Dreyer (Ordet, 1955), emergent Andrej Tarkovskj (Ivan’s Childhood, Golden Lion in 1962), Luis Buñuel (Belle de jour, 1967), Ingmar Bergman (The Face/The Magician, 1959), who had first come to the Lido in 1948 as an unknown figure with Musik i mörker.