Snippets from the Venice International Film Festival 2019

The Venice International Film Festival is part of the Venice Biennale, founded by the city’s father’s in 1932 and claiming to be the world’s oldest. Film is one of many art-related activities including architecture, dance, music, cinema and a kid’s carnival, all of this drawing devotees from every part of the world. This writer hopes that the event did not draw too many cruise ships.

Films from every country vie for the top prizes and the Golden Lion for the best film this year was awarded to JOKER , directed by the American Todd Phillips and starring his fellow countrymen Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro. The film is said to be ‘bold, devastating and utterly beautiful’ and early reports make it a shoo-in for an Oscar. A snip at $55 million.

Todd Phillips (l) and Joaquin Phoenix

An Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse) is Roman Polanski’s film from a novel by our own Robert Harris. The true story of a miscarriage of justice in 1894 France that rocked the nation and involved  a Jewish officer falsely accused of spying. The film won the Silver Lion and  the Grand Jury prize. It Features Jean Dujardin and Emmanuelle Seigner.  Polanski (picture), who arrived unannounced, is a French-Polish film director, producer, writer, and actor. Since 1978, he has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system, having fled the country while awaiting sentencing in his sexual abuse case, in which he pleaded guilty to statutory rape. To quote: ‘The head of the Venice jury, Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel, had earlier to make an embarrassing about-turn after boycotting a gala dinner for Polanski, only to be forced to clarify that she was not prejudiced against his film’. Ouch.

Now, it gives me the greatest pleasure to mention Dame Julie Andrews for winning the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievements. Bravo for the lady who had much to deal with and is still smiling. I hope that she (and Pablo Almodovar, similarly honoured) enjoyed their gala dinner. Always a star.

There are, off course, dozens of films hoping for artistic success and gainful distribution. Fewer ‘blockbusters’ meant takings in cinemas are down for the first time in years. JOKER should fill this gap, a quite demanding film that will surprise many.