Venice Film Festival

Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica
International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art
Venice Film Festival logo.svg
Festival di Venezia 2018.jpg
Venice Cinema Palace on the Lido island
LocationVenice, Italy
Founded6 August 1932; 86 years ago (1932-08-06)
AwardsGolden Lion
No. of films87 in

The Venice Film Festival or Venice International Film Festival (Italian: Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia, "International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art of the Venice Biennale") is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the "Big Three" film festivals, alongside the Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival.[1][2] These three film festivals are nationally acclaimed, and give creators the artistic freedom to express themselves through film.[3]

Founded in Venice, Italy, in August 1932, the festival is part of the Venice Biennale, an exhibition of Italian art founded by the Venice City Council on 19 April 1893.[4] The Venice Biennale, founded in 1893, is situated within the cultural sphere, covering work ranging from art, architecture, dance, music and theatre to cinema (the world-known Venice Film Festival).[5] Today, the Biennale includes a range of separate events including: the International Art Exhibition; the International Festival of Contemporary Music; the International Theatre Festival; the International Architecture Exhibition; the International Festival of Contemporary Dance; the International Kids' Carnival; and the annual Venice Film Festival, which is arguably the best-known of all the events.

The festival in held annually in late August or early September on the island of the Lido in the Venice Lagoon. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi. Since its inception the Venice Film Festival has grown into one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and it is still one of the most popular and fast-growing.[6]

The 76th Venice International Film Festival is scheduled to be held from 28 August to 7 September 2019.[7]



During the 1930s, the government and Italian citizens were heavily interested in film. The majority of all money spent on spectator art or sporting events went to film industry.[8] The majority of films screened in Italy were American which lead to government involvement in the film industry and the yearning to celebrate Italian culture in general.[9] With this in mind, the Venice International Film Festival was created by Giuseppe Volpi, Luciano de Feo, and Antonio Maraini in 1932.[10][11][9] Volpi, a statesman, wealthy businessman, and avid fascist, was appointed as the president of the Venice Biennale the same year. Formerly, he served as the Minister of Finance under Benito Mussolini.Maraini served as the festival's Secretary General and the executive committee was headed by de Feo.[11]

On the night of August 6, 1932, the American film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Rouben Mamoulian opened the festival. Attendees viewed the film on the terrace of the Excelsior Palace Hotel. A total of nine countries participated in the festival which lasted from August 6 to August 21.[11]

No awards were given at the first exhibition, however, an audience referendum was held to declare which films and performances were worthy of the most praise. The French film Freedom for Us was labeled as the Film Più Divertente (the most fun film). The Sin of Madelon Claudet was chosen as the Film Più commovente (the most moving film) and it was decided that Helen Hayes gave the best actress performance for her role in the film. The title of most original film, Film dalla fantasia più originale, was given to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Fredric March was considered to have given the best actor performance.[11]

Despite the success of the first festival, no event was held in 1933. In 1934, the festival was declared to be an annual event and involvement grew from nine countries to seventeen. The structure of the festival also began to develop in 1934 when the first official awards were given, namely the Mussolini Cup. Seventeen awards were give; 14 to films, 3 to individuals, and 5 honorable mentions were announced.[11]

The third installment in 1935 was headed by the festival's first artistic director, Ottavio Croze, who maintained this position until the war. The following year added a jury to the festival's governing body, with members being solely Italian.[11] The majority of funds for the festival at this point came from the Ministry of Popular Culture, with other portions received from the Biennale and the city of Venice.[12]

The year 1936 also marked another important development in the festival. A law, crafted by the Ministry of Popular Culture, was passed declaring the festival to be an autonomous entity, separate from the main Venice Biennale. This allowed additional fascist organizations, such as the Department of Cinema and the Fascist National Federation of Entertainment Industries, to take control of the festival.[12]

The fifth festival established its home. Designed and completed in 1937, the Palazzo del Cinema was built on the Lido. The Palazzo has since been the site for every Venice Film Festival with a three year exception from 1940 to 1942 when the festival was moved away from Venice for fear of bombing. Coincidentally, the city received almost no damage.[10]


The 1940s represent one of the most difficult moments for the festival itself. Nazi propaganda movie Heimkehr was presented in 1941 winning an award from the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture. With the advent of the conflict the situation degenerated to such a point that the editions of 1940, 1941 and 1942, subsequently are considered as if they did not happen because they were carried out in places far away from Lido.[13] Additionally, the festival was renamed the Italian-German Film Festival (Manifestazione Cinematografica Italo-Germanica) in 1940. The festival carried this title until 1942 when the festival was suspended due to war.[12]

The festival resumed full speed in 1946, after the war. For the first time, the 1946 edition was held in the month of September, in accordance to an agreement with the newly-born Cannes Film Festival, which had just held its first review in the spring of that year. With the return of normalcy, Venice once again became a great icon of the film world.[13]

In 1947 the festival was held in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace, a most magnificent backdrop for hosting a record 90 thousand participants. The 1947 festival is widely considered one of the most successful editions in the history of the festival.[13]

Development and closure

The Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro and Pier Paolo Pasolini together in Venice at the premiere of the movie The Gospel According to St. Matthew in 1964.

In 1963 the winds of change blow strongly during Luigi Chiarini’s directorship of the festival (1963–1968). During the years of his directorship, Chiarini aspired to renew the spirit and the structures of the festival, pushing for a total reorganization of the entire system. For six years the festival followed a consistent path, according to the rigid criteria put in place for the selection of works in competition, and took a firm stand against the political pressures and interference of more and more demanding movie studios, preferring the artistic quality of films to the growing commercialization of the film industry.

The social and political unrest of 1968 had strong repercussions on the Venice Bienniale. From 1969 to 1979 no prizes were awarded and the festival returned to the non-competitiveness of the first edition. In 1973, 1977 and 1978, the festival was not even held. The Golden Lion didn't make its return until 1980.[13]

The rebirth

Years Director
1979–1983 Carlo Lizzani
1983–1987 Gian Luigi Rondi
1987–1992 Guglielmo Biraghi
1992–1996 Gillo Pontecorvo
1996–1999 Felice Laudadio
1999–2002 Alberto Barbera
2002–2004 Moritz de Hadeln
2004–2012 Marco Müller
since 2012 Alberto Barbera

The long-awaited rebirth came in 1979, thanks to the new director Carlo Lizzani (1979–1983), who decided to restore the image and value the festival had lost over the last decade. The 1979 edition laid the foundation for the restoration of international prestige. In an attempt to create a more modern image of the festival, the neo-director created a committee of experts to assist in selecting the works and to increase the diversity of submissions to the festival.

Recent years

To celebrate the 70th edition of the festival, in 2013 the new section "Venezia 70 – Future Reloaded" was created.

During the recent years, under the direction of Alberto Barbera, the festival established itself as an Oscars launchpad[14], increasing the presence of American movies and hosting the world premieres of Academy Award-winning films such as Gravity (2013), Birdman (2014), Spotlight (2015), La La Land (2016) and The Shape of Water (2017).

In 2017 an new section for virtual-reality (VR) films was introduced.

In 2018 Roma by Alfonso Cuarón won the Golden Lion and became the first ever movie produced by Netflix to be awarded in a major film festival.[15]

Other Languages
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Fèstival ad Venèsia
français: Mostra de Venise
Bahasa Indonesia: Festival Film Venesia
Bahasa Melayu: Pesta Filem Venice
Simple English: Venice Film Festival
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Venecijanski filmski festival
Tiếng Việt: Liên hoan phim Venezia