Film Festival Circuit: The Venice International Film Festival

Venice gold lion

Every late August to September, the tiny island town of Lido in the province of Venice, Italy hosts the Venice International Film Festival.  Founded in 1932, it is the world’s oldest film festival; held in conjunction with the most prestigious international cultural exhibition, the Venice Biennale; combining film, and contemporary art, music, theater and dance. 

Being the oldest of it’s kind, the Venice venue has birthed many great directors, actors, and writer’s careers by sharing their talented breakthrough films with the international community and acknowledging their genius through its festival awards.  The festival’s principal awards are the Leone d’Oro or Gold Lion for best feature, the Leone d’Argento for best director and the Coppa Volpi for best actor and actress.  Over the years the competition awards have expanded to include categories for film format, short film, screenwriting, cinematography and documentaries.  The festival has a special category for Italian cinema.

Past winners of the Venice Film Festival Gold Lion are responsible for some of the most influential cinematic movements, such as the emergence of Japanese cinema by directors like Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, Rash­­­ômon) and Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu) and French New Wave directors Jean-Luc Goddard (Vivre sa Vie) and Luis Buñel (Belle de Jour).  Chinese director Ang Lee has won two Gold Lions for his films Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Lust, Caution (2007). Only four American directors have won a Gold Lion: John Cassavetes, Robert Altman, Darren Aronofsky and Sophia Coppola.

Filmmakers wishing to compete in the festival must submit their work before December 24th of the preceding year, providing they own the rights to the film and follow the festivals rules and regulations.  The Venice Film Festival offers two summertime workshops on film production through La Biennale di Veniza College cinema.  In addition the American Pavilion has a Venice Intensive program for students and recent grads.  Both programs have their own admission requirements.

In taking a late summer trip to Venice, Italy, filmmakers, students and holiday- makers can experience the wonder of the international arts community.  Most film screenings are free to the public, but only to those over the age of 18.  The Venice International Film festival continues to represent the world’s rich cultures and art history in one of the oldest most beautiful cities in Western Europe, and will continue to introduce some of the greatest films for years to come.

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