Venice Film Festival Set to Proceed With 2020 Edition Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

Daniele Venturelli/WireImage
Venice's Palazzo del Cinema at the 76th Venice Film Festival in August 2019

The president of parent group the Venice Biennale told Italian news agency ANSA on Monday there were currently no plans to collaborate with the Cannes Film Festival on a joint event this year.

The Venice Film Festival has confirmed it will go ahead as planned this year, holding its 77th edition Sept. 2-12.

Roberto Cicutto, president of the festival's parent group, the Venice Biennale, told Italian news agency ANSA on Monday that it would not postpone or cancel the 2020 event despite health concerns amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Cicutto said there were currently no plans to collaborate with the Cannes Film Festival on a joint event this year. After twice pushing back the dates for Cannes this year, Cannes Festival director Thierry Fremaux raised the possibility of a one-off collaboration with Venice.

"With Cannes everything is possible. But I find it disconcerting that Thierry Fremaux keeps saying he is continuing to examine the situation and does not say what he wants to do," Cicutto told ANSA. "We are going forward with our program...there is no dialogue [with Cannes]."

Cicutto said he was confident Italian authorities would grant Venice special permission to open "six or seven circumscribed movie theaters" during the festival for screenings.

Currently, Italy is in a near-complete lockdown, with all cinemas and nonessential businesses shuttered. The country has been among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with 179,000 confirmed infections of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 23,000 deaths attributed to the disease, according to figures from the Johns Hopkins Institute on April 20.

Cicutto admitted that international attendance in Venice this year would be down sharply from previous years, given health concerns and the travel restrictions likely to still be in place. He said the festival is "fine-tuning" its digital technology to allow foreign journalists who are unable to make the trip to Venice to still participate in the festival but did not give further details.

Cicutto said the Venice Biennale will unveil further plans by the end of May.

If Venice does go ahead as planned in September, the festival could benefit from a rich selection of films that were earmarked for Cannes, assuming that Fremaux does not find an alternative date for Cannes in the coming months.