Venice Film Festival Cancels Opening Gala After Italy Earthquake

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The Italian festival has canceled its glamorous opening festivities to honor the victims of the country's devastating earthquake.

To pay respect to the victims of the earthquake that tore apart central Italy on Wednesday, the 73rd Venice International Film Festival has said that its yearly opening-gala dinner and party will be canceled.

The grand festivities have taken place in recent years on the beach outside of the Excelsior hotel with a large buffet and cocktail reception honoring the opening-night film. The fest is set to run Aug. 31-Sept. 10.

This year, Lionsgate is bringing the global premiere of Damien Chazelle’s new film La La Land to open the festival, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. There is no word yet if Lionsgate or the fest plans to donate to relief efforts in lieu of the festivities.

While helmer Chazelle, Stone and other castmembers including J.K. Simmons are expected to trek to Venice for the premiere, a musical in the spirit of old Hollywood films, Gosling will be busy shooting the Blade Runner sequel.

“Gala Dinner and cocktail party on the beach cancelled for the opening of #Venice73 in respect and solidarity to the victims of the earthquake,” festival director Alberto Barbera tweeted Thursday.

Organizers expressed in a statement, "our deepest sympathies for the victims, as well as heartfelt solidarity and closeness to the hard-hit communities." 

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the sleeping central Italy, destroying hundreds of homes and almost entire villages, with Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli being hit the hardest. 

The death toll stands at over 250, and violent aftershocks on Thursday hampered relief efforts. The earthquake was felt in Rome and as far as Bologna to the north.

Donations to the Italian Red Cross can be made here.