Little Hollywood, lots of Italy: Venice Film Festival opens

The 80th Venice Film Festival opened with a focus on the Italian film scene due to the strike.

Little Hollywood, lots of Italy: Venice Film Festival opens

The 80th Venice Film Festival opened with a focus on the Italian film scene due to the strike. Fewer international film stars than usual showed up on the red carpet on Wednesday evening. There were a lot of Italian celebrities to see. In her opening speech, actress Caterina Murino addressed the strikers in Hollywood.

Subsequently, the 90-year-old Italian director Liliana Cavani was awarded an honorary lion. The 90-year-old accepted the lifetime achievement award from British actress Charlotte Rampling. She plays the leading role in Cavani's film "The Night Porter" (1974).

Murino said on stage Wednesday night, alluding to the US strike: "A warm and supportive salute to those who are not here with us to defend the intellectual and economic value of their work and to remind us that the artistic Creating is the prerogative of talented men and women that cannot be delegated to artificial intelligence."

Unionized screenwriters have been on strike in the US since early May. Since mid-July, tens of thousands of members of the actors' union SAG-AFTRA have also stopped working. They demand better remuneration and rules for dealing with artificial intelligence.

Fewer stars in Venice

Some US stars involved in films at this year's festival are not coming to Venice. This includes Bradley Cooper, whose film "Maestro" is in the competition. Emma Stone, who plays the leading role in the competition film "Poor Things" by Yorgos Lanthimos, is also said to stay away from the festival. "The effects of the Hollywood actors' strike will be felt," festival director Alberto Barbera said. But they would not be as serious as initially feared.

However, in addition to the international jury members - which include the US director Damien Chazelle, the New Zealand director Jane Campion and the Irish filmmaker Martin McDonagh - the opening was mainly attended by Italian celebrities. Some politicians from the Mediterranean country walked the carpet, such as Italy's Infrastructure and Transport Minister Matteo Salvini.

Exchange of the opening film

Originally, the film "Challengers" by Luca Guadagnino, starring US actress Zendaya, was to be shown at the opening. Because of the strike, the arrangements were also made here.

The film "Comandante" was awarded the contract. Italian director Edoardo De Angelis' historical drama tells the story of a heroic Italian submarine commander during World War II. Salvatore Todaro (1908-1942) decided in 1940 during a voyage on the Atlantic to rescue Belgian opponents of the war and bring them onto his ship.

Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino plays Todaro in the film. "I am a man of the sea," he lets him say - and emphasizes that special humanistic laws apply on the ocean that do not necessarily correspond to those of war. In the film, Todaro has to hold his own against voices that argue in favor of letting the enemy die.

Director De Angelis said in the afternoon about the presence of right-wing populist politician Salvini at the Venice festival: He hopes that everyone who watches the film agrees that there are eternal and unchanging laws like those of the sea that are never broken . He alluded to the negative attitude of the right-wing Italian government to sea rescue.

A melting pot

In an interview with industry magazine Deadline, De Angelis previously said: "We are a nation made up of people from many different backgrounds, but in recent years the idea has taken hold that being Italian is a privilege and an identity to be that is not open to others. I cannot agree with that. A nation that emerged as a melting pot should be open to others."

"Comandante" is one of 23 films competing for the festival's main prize, the Golden Lion. This will be awarded on September 9th.