Throwback Thursday: My Experience At The Venice International Film Festival – 72nd & 74th Edition

72nd Venice International Film Festival

It’s that time of the year when the Venice International Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia) takes place.

Held annually in Venice, Italy, it is one of the biggest film festivals worldwide and one of the oldest, since it was founded in 1932.

I studied acting for a few years while working in the fashion industry and I later switched to photography because the whole machine surrounding the business was giving me anxiety and I felt I didn’t love what I was doing anymore; I was more interested in other forms of art, as I wanted to stick with fashion and pursue photography as a hobby and a freelance job.

During those years I had the chance to attend two of the Venice Film Festival editions, both in 2015 and 2017; the first time I was there with a friend who was showcasing an independent film in the Venice Days section (apart from the Official Selection, there are other award categories like Horizons, Lion of the Future and Glory to the Filmmaker Award). The Lido di Venezia (Venice Lido), where the festival takes place, is part of the Venetian lagoon, on the Adriatic sea, which is famous for its golden sand beaches. The highlight of the experience for me was watching the movies; I consider myself a cinephile so it was exciting to see movie previews, especially because some of the ones screened in Venice are usually among the highest-anticipated of the year.

During the 2015 edition I got to see Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl”, which makes me still think about Alicia Vikander’s Academy-Award winning performance, and Drake Doremus’ Equals, a sci-fi romance starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult as the main characters (I really enjoyed this film even though the audience didn’t seem to appreciate it, probably because the majority of people are not used to seeing slow-pace films on the big screen). I also watched an Australian film called “Looking for Grace” on its premiere night and I found it very emotional.

Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” was the most interesting and thought-provoking film to watch, as it was based on a true story and it went on to win two Oscars the following year, including Best Motion Picture.

Some of my favorite moments from the 72nd Venice Film Festival were catching the ferryboat to Venice Lido during a storm (which was pretty scary!), seeing a double rainbow on the PalaBiennale and visiting Libreria Acqua Alta, an iconic bookstore in the main town of Venice. I am an avid reader and this is one of the most beautiful bookstores I have ever seen.

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy
Double rainbow on the Venice Lido during the festival
Eddie Redmayne with his wife Hannah at The Danish Girl premiere
Inside the PalaBiennale for the Looking for Grace premiere
Me at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival
Main location of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival

I got to come back for the 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival in 2017 because my father was working near Venice during that time; I was there for a couple of days only, but I managed to see what was probably the most talked-about movie of the year: “mother!” directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, was premiering in Venice so I watched it sitting third-row and it was one of the most surreal experiences in my life.

Most of the movie is a close-up on Jennifer Lawrence’s face; seeing it on a ten-foot tall screen was captivating and intimidating at the same time. The movie being a thriller/horror with some disturbing scenes, I spent nearly half of it with a sense of uneasiness as the tension builds throughout the entire story and it is so suspenseful at times that I began feeling terrified! I thought it was a brilliant movie with so many analogies, charged with symbolism and it was generally praised by critics, but someone in the audience was booing it during the screening I attended so I was very disappointed with it. I feel like everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I find it disrespectful to mock a film or a director just because you don’t like it (probably it’s not even that they didn’t like it, it’s that they didn’t understand it, as I recognize one needs to have some key readings in order to fully comprehend its analogies and hidden meanings.

74th edition with the poster of Victoria & Abdul, one of the movies being presented
Main location of the 74th Venice International Film Festival
Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica “Venezia 74”
Me at the Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” premiere

I am always interested in watching the movies presented at the festival, since the Venice International Film Festival is the first one of awards season and many of the films showcased here will be surely talked about in the upcoming months.

I am reading some articles about the current edition and I have heard there’s some controversy going on; I think we should all focus on the movies being screened because this is what film festivals are supposed to be about. The movie seen as a work of art, as a product which vehicles a message or simply entertains the audience. Too much attention is given to what actors and public figures do off-screen, so we should go back to only talking about the movies and some of the fashion related to the festival (mainly Armani Beauty, which is sponsoring the 79th edition).

Additional notes:

Thank you to Hotel Panorama for welcoming me during the 72nd edition of Venice International Film Festival, I had a wonderful stay.

In the black and white photo I am wearing a PrettyLittleThing floral dress, while my dress from Aronofsky’s premiere is from ASOS Design.

All pictures are my own.

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