Venice Festival Director Open to Cannes Cooperation

Alberto Barbera - Getty - H 2018
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

Venice Festival Director Alberto Barbera

Working with Cannes would be a "sign of solidarity" during the COVID-19 crisis, Alberto Barbera told Italian media on Tuesday.

The Venice International Film Festival has "a concrete will" to collaborate with Cannes this year, in what Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera says would be a "sign of solidarity towards the cinema world" during the coronavirus crisis.

In an interview with Italian news agency ANSA on Tuesday, Barbera said he was open to an idea, first floated by Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux, that the two European festivals collaborate on this 2020 editions.

Cannes has twice postponed its start date this year, citing health concerns connected to the coronavirus pandemic. It has yet to set a new date for the festival but has not yet canceled it outright. Frémaux has suggested Cannes could be held closer to the Venice festival, which is scheduled to run Sept. 2-12, and could even share films with the Italian event.

ANSA quoted Barbera as saying he had not excluded the possibility of "a real collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival, which would be a sign of solidarity towards the cinema world, which is now more than ever in difficulty."  Barbera said he was in talks with Frémaux and that there was a "concrete will" on both sides to find a solution.

His comments appeared to contradict an ANSA interview on Monday with Roberto Cicutto, president of the Venice Biennale, the group that oversees the fest. Cicutto said Venice was not in talks with Cannes and downplayed the possibility of a collaboration.

If the Venice International Film Festival does take place as planned, it will be the first major film event in Europe since the epidemic hit the continent in late February. Barbera acknowledged the 2020 edition will take place under the shadow of the virus.

"There will probably be masks and social distancing and we’ll have to without a doubt reduce admissions into the theaters and even the number of accreditations," he told ANSA, noting that the bigger Hollywood productions would be unlikely to risk sending their stars to the Lido this year.

Most of Italy currently remains in lockdown, but the country is seeing some signs of progress in its fight against COVID-19, with officials on Tuesday reporting a drop in active coronavirus cases for the first time since February. Some 108,000 Italians, however, were still testing positive for the novel coronavirus, while more than 24,000 have died from COVID-19.