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On the second day of the Venice Film Festival, the strain of holding a major cinema event with strict COVID-era safety measures is starting to show.
Several film critics on Thursday took to social media to complain about missing the start of two hotly anticipated movies, Pablo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God and Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter, due to long security lines outside the festival grounds, where Italian police do temperature checks and examine bags before letting in the accredited press.
The queues early Thursday morning meant dozens of critics missed the first 10 minutes of the 8:30 a.m. press screening of Hand of God, a Netflix drama set in Naples in the 1980s. It was a similar story for the 8:30 screening of The Card Counter, a Focus Feature film starring Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish.
“Didn’t get into the 8.30 Card Counter screening because even though we got to the checkpoint with plenty of time to spare, we here held up there for 30 minutes,” tweeted Time magazine’s film critic Stephanie Zacharek. “Future morning screenings mean skipping breakfast, I guess. Makes for a long day.”
It’s unclear if the Venice Film Festival will be able to program additional press screenings to accommodate those critics who missed out.
Security and safety protocols this year are broadly similar to those put in place in 2020 when Venice was the only major film festival to hold an in-person event post-COVID. But travel restrictions last year meant far fewer people could attend. Demand this year is up to near pre-pandemic levels, putting a strain on the system.
Despite the larger number of attendees, Italy’s COVID protocols require cinemas to limit capacity to 50 percent, making scheduling even more challenging.
But, it must also be said, critics are paid to grumble. Venice programs multiple screenings of all its competition films spread over several days. Anyone who missed the early morning screening of The Card Counter could catch a second showing just a few hours later.
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