Dressed in a black and white Chanel dress, Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz spearheaded the return of movie stars on the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival on its opening night Wednesday, as cinema hopes to shake off the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike rival Cannes, the oldest film festival in the world did not skip the 2020 edition due to the health crisis but it is only this year that celebrities are coming back in force on the Lido promenade, in a demonstration of support for a industry hammered by lockdowns.
Organizers are banking on a strict anti-COVID protocol to help keep the 11-day film marathon run smoothly.
Theaters run at half capacity, and a wall blocks the red carpet view to prevent crowds from gathering outside the main venue. Masks and a negative health pass or COVID test are required to participate in the screenings, and there will be fewer late-night parties.
“They are taking the measures very seriously. Everyone is very careful, very responsible. I think it’s great for the industry that things can start to turn back, ”Cruz told Reuters ahead of the opening ceremony.
“I’m glad this is happening. It is a celebration of cinema but it also employs many people around the world ”.
Cruz stars in “Parallel Mothers”, the opening film of the festival by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Hollywood stars Kirsten Dunst, Timothee Chalamet, are also among those who have made the trip to Venice so far.
Actress Serena Rossi, who will host the opening ceremony of the 78th Venice International Film Festival, poses during a photocall on the beach, in Venice, Italy, August 31, 2021.
Actress Serena Rossi
“Everyone everywhere is eager to come back, to reopen, to start over, to release the films that have been on the shelves for a year and a half or maybe two,” festival director Alberto Barbera told Reuters.
He said most of the world premieres to be screened at the festival were already sold out and promised there will be no shortage of celebrities, even if fans won’t be able to get close to them.
“The red carpet will be one of the busiest in recent years because everyone is here,” he said.
Nominations for the Golden Lion for Best Picture include Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a ranch owner tormenting a young widow played by Dunst, and Kristen’s turn. Stewart as Princess Diana in “Spencer”.
Also in the main line-up is Gyllenhaal with his directorial debut of “The Lost Daughter,” based on an Elena Ferrante novel and starring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson.
Ridley Scott’s medieval epic “The Last Duel” starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated sci-fi tale “Dune,” starring Chalamet and Zendaya, will both screen out of competition.
The festival is a showcase for Oscar contenders as awards season approaches, and South Korean “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho – who chairs the jury – has said he’s ready to fight with the other jury members. to choose the prize winners.
“As a director, I don’t think cinema can be stopped that easily. COVID will pass, cinema will continue, ” he said.