Venice Film Festival to Reduce Official Selection, Enact Pandemic-Related Changes

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

The 77th edition will "forgo organizing the Sconfini section," and the Venice Classics section will move to Bologna.

Organizers of the Venice Film Festival said Tuesday that this year's edition will feature a reduced Official Selection and "present certain changes, which have become necessary as a result of the sanitary protocols imposed by the COVID-19 emergency."

To comply with measures required to deal with the pandemic, first and foremost social distancing, "the overall number of films in the Official Selection will be lower, although not by much," they said.

This year's program will include the competitive sections Venezia 77 and Orizzonti, along with the usual Out of Competition section, plus the Biennale College Cinema.

But the 77th edition of the Venice festival will have no Sconfini section, "with the purpose of guaranteeing the greatest possible number of seats for the repeat screenings of the films in the main sections." The Sconfini program typically includes art house and genre films, experimental works, TV series and cross-media productions. 

In addition, the Venice Classics section will not be part of the fest, but will instead be hosted as part of the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato, a showcase for restored films taking place Aug. 25-31 in Bologna, Italy. "This collaboration between the two festivals offers an unprecedented solution to an exceptional situation," organizers said.

Venice unveiled that it will set up two outdoor arenas for this year's edition in addition to the usual cinemas. "The screenings will take place in the theaters where they have been traditionally held on the Lido, adopting all the safety measures established by the competent authorities for the health emergency and in force on the date of the event," the fest said. "The Venice Virtual Reality competition, on the other hand, will be shown entirely online."

Said Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera: "I am extremely pleased that the Biennale Cinema can be held with a minimum reduction of films and sections. Without forgetting the countless victims of these past few months to whom due tribute shall be paid, the first international festival following the forced interruption dictated by the pandemic becomes the meaningful celebration of the reopening we all looked forward to, and a message of concrete optimism for the entire world of cinema, which has suffered greatly from this crisis.”

He added: "The Official Selection of Venezia 77, with its 50 to 55 films from around the world, will provide its traditional overview of the best that the film industry has produced in recent months, thanks to the extraordinary response by directors and producers, despite the arduous working conditions over these past few months. A significant number of directors and actors will accompany the films to the Lido, while internet connections will make it possible to hold press conferences with all those who will be unable to participate in person due to the travel restrictions that remain in place."

The festival will unveil its program on July 28. The 77th edition of the fest will take place Sept. 2-12.