Tag Archives: Venice Classics

Opening Press Conference 73rd Venice Film Festival


Yesterday at 1:00PM, Biennale Cinema titans, Paolo Baratta and Alberto Barbera welcomed media guests and visitors to Venice and to the Opening Press Conference of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.

Mr. Baratta opened the remarks detailing the commitment Venice has made to making the festival the best it can be for its visitors and its stakeholders alike. Mr. Barbera then presented the various Juries, VENEZIA 73, ORIZZONTI, OPERA PRIMA – LUIGI LAURENTIS, and VENICE CLASSICS and their respective members in alphabetical order as follows; Laurie Anderson (VENEZIA 73), Roberto Ando (VENICE CLASSICS, President), Gemma Arterton (VENEZIA 73), Rosa Bosch (OPERA PRIMA – LUIGI LAURENTIS), Brady Corbet (OPERA PRIMA – LUIGI LAURENTIS), Giancarlo De Cataldo (VENEZIA 73), Robert Guediguian (ORIZZONTI, President), Jim Hoberman (ORIZZONTI), Nina Hoss (VENEZIA 73), Nelly Karim (ORIZZONTI), Valentina, Lodovini (ORIZZONTI), Pilar Lopez de Ayala (OPERA PRIMA – LUIGI LAURENTIS), Chiara Mastroianni (VENEZIA 73), Sam Mendez (VENEZIA 73, President), Joshua Oppenheimer (VENEZIA 73), Jose Maria (Chema) Prado (ORIZZONTI), Moon So-ri (ORIZZONTI), Kim Rossi Stuart (OPERA PRIMA – LUIGI LAURENTIS, President), Chaitanya Tamhane (ORIZZONTI), Serge Toubiana (OPERA PRIMA – LUIGI LAURENTIS), Lorenzo Vigas (VENEZIA 73), and Zhao Wei (VENEZIA 73).

The conference was quickly opened up to audience members for questions. One of the first questions came from a Chinese agency asking the lovely Zhao Wei, the first Chinese female to sit on the VENEZIA Jury, what she was looking for in films.

Chinese screen starlet, Zhao Wei, addresses the audience at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival’s Opening Press Conference. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Ms. Zhao Wei responded while she has considerable experience in the film industry she was also a still learning about films and would look for quality in all aspects of the film’s production. Next, an Austrian entity inquired regarding the safety in attending such a prestigious and noteworthy festival. Mr. Barbera quickly responded informing the audience the festival had an increased security presence this year and had taken precautionary measures to safeguard this year’s attendees. The second question was no less in ease to answer and came from a Japanese party. The inquiry came from the fact no Japanese film had made the festival for three consecutive years and why? Another quick response from Mr. Barbera provided insight into the festival’s lineup from over 50 countries out of upwards to 188 countries so every country won’t be represented every year. The third question hit the mark with what does VENEZIA73 President, Sam Mendez look for in his analysis of films. Mr. Mendez responded with while he does view many films, he doesn’t have a structured format for his analysis preferring to enjoy the film and find it’s excellence within. Mendez humbly admitted he is still learning about film!

And, as the conference was limited in the amount of time, Barbera thanked the audience for coming and wished each and everyone a safe and wonderful festival.

Dawn of the Dead – European Cut [Zombi, 1978] by George A. Romero restored in High Definition (4K)

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 12.23.06 AMAt midnight on Friday September 2nd, in the Sala Giardino (Lido di Venezia), the world premiere screening will be held of the restored copy of George A. Romero’s masterpiece Dawn of the Dead – European Cut [Zombi, 1978] (USA-Italy, 115’), in the version edited and curated at that time by Dario Argento for the European market with music by Goblin.

The screening will be introduced with a presentation by Dario Argento himself, who was the producer of the film, and by Nicolas Winding Refn, a great admirer of Dawn of the Dead and supervisor of the restoration in high definition.
Dawn of the Dead – European Cut, a cult horror film that gave birth to the modern iconography of “the living dead”, as celebrated in the TV series The Walking Dead, is part of the Venice Classics section of the 73rd Venice Film Festival (31 August – 10 September 2016), and will be screened in a version remastered in 4K, by Koch Media in collaboration with Norton Trust and Antonello Cuomo.
Dawn of the Dead [Zombi, 1978] is the second chapter in the four-part series created by George A. Romero in 1968 with the Night of the Living Dead, later followed by Day of the Dead (1985) and Land of the Dead (2005).
Dario Argento on Dawn of the Dead [Zombi]
dario-argento-2“I am particularly pleased that Zombi is being re-released after so many years. Titanus, the distributor at the time, considered it a very strange film with too much action: the music was too extreme, they thought it would not be well received and I was a little scared myself by this terrible prophecy. I didn’t know what to do so I said: «Ok, let’s screen the world premiere in Turin, a city I love because that is where I filmed Deep Red; if it doesn’t do well there, we can do away with it». It was a Friday afternoon and I was rather terrified as I went to the theatre; but I remember seeing a lot of people as I walked over from the hotel and thought: so it can’t be going that bad!.. and in fact when I got there it was packed; I went in and thanked everyone for coming. The film was being shown after a lengthy series of mishaps in Italy: the censors made me cut out a lot of scenes, and as a result I withdrew it. They were asking me to cut far too much; I remember even thinking that the editing would no longer be comprehensible, so I made a series of small cuts, fixed it up a little, and was able to swing an emergency procedure (usually the censors take up to six months to review a film again). When the film was finally released it was forbidden to minors under the age of eighteen which, in my mind, was fairly serious, because we had conceived it for an audience of young people… I have a great memory of Zombi because it was so important for my career and for George’s as well”.
Nicolas Winding Refn on Dawn of the Dead [Zombi]
nicolas-winding-refnI had always considered Dawn of the Dead, or Zombi, to be a clear example of great cinema, both innovative and outrageous at the same time. The most extreme and fascinating tale of American consumerism ever brought to the screen, there is nothing like it. I consider it a great honour to present the version restored in 4K of this masterpiece at the 2016 edition of the Venice Film Festival, which has always been important to me”.
Dawn of the Dead [Zombi] will be available next fall in Blu Ray 4K, Blu Ray and DVD for the Midnight Factory label, in a boxed set with additional contents that will include the other two versions of the film (Extended and Theatrical), also in high definition.
la Biennale

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