The Venice International Film Festival is going forward and begins today running through September 12th (Awards Day). Held on the island barrier Lido Venice, this very popular film festival is enjoying its 77th anniversary and is organized by La Biennale di Venezia and directed by Alberto Barbera. A more restrained format will be in place this year than years past due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, this should not be a problem since vibrant Venice has enjoyed a long history of mask-wearing that dates back hundreds of years. The tradition of the carnival face mask started in the 13th century when Venetians of all social classes would mingle and hold celebrations (from December 26th until the start of Lent) wearing elaborate masquerade masks to conceal their identity in order to play out their fantasies. Naughty, naughty.
With this in mind, the Venice film festival should be nothing but fun, with more than 50 countries screening their films at the festival and 18 flicks battling for top prize – the Golden Lion. The lovely Cate Blanchett will serve as jury president for the main competition, while French director Claire Denis heads up the jury for the festival’s Horizons competition. Eight of the top films are directed by women, which makes it even more meaningful that the extremely talented and relatively young Tilda Swinton (a good friend of MIFF founders Rosana Golden & Dean Bentley) will receive a lifetime achievement award, as will female filmmaker Ann Hui. All the above-mentioned highlights are sure to generate some much-needed tourism to the region as well.
Speaking of which, if you want to watch a delightful lighthearted mindless movie that shows some splendid scenes of Venice I recommend The Tourist (2010), starring Angelina Jolie and the ever-so-charming Johnny Depp whose handsome black Irish features (dark brown eyes/hair) and smooth mannerisms hook audiences every time. Oh yeah, and the plot/love story of the movie is quite sweet and captivating enough too; the beautiful backdrop of Venice also really helps make this movie worth the watch. This romantic crime thriller (also starring Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton is a remake of the 2005 French film Anthony Zimmer) revolves around Frank (Depp), a befuddled American tourist visiting Italy to mend a broken heart when he meets a mysterious woman Elise (a British Agent) on a train to Venice. Elise (Jolie) deliberately crosses Frank’s path to use him (an elementary school math teacher) as a decoy to make Scotland Yard believe he is indeed her MIA mob banker husband Alexander Pierce (in disguise) who is wanted by police and Italian gangsters for robbery. Although this post is more about the Venice International Film Festival and less about the picture The Tourist I will provide a thumbnail version of this movie’s main take-away message set in one of the most romantic cities in the world. In short, love may not always look the way we expect it to look. Conceal vs. Reveal – peel away the mask to discover that the core counts more than the coating.
P.S. I have visited Venice a number of times (in all seasons) including my 1st anniversary, with my kids/family, during work-related trips to Italy, with friends on route to film festivals, and yes just as a fascinated tourist! Venice is one of the most stunning and unbelievable destinations you could ever visit – a must-see metropolis for the bucket list. Travel Tip – a great hotel to stay at is the Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal located directly across from the train station (just a short walk over the bridge). It’s reasonably priced (for Venice) and you can easily catch the water bus to all tourist attractions including St. Mark’s Square, where I highly recommend stopping at Caffé Florian for a freshly pressed cappuccino and their amazing individually wrapped dark chocolate dipped coffee beans. Yum. There are also so many fabulous little Italian restaurants located just behind the square in amongst the many lovely little canals serving up the best food the place has to offer at a good price; where you can also take a gondola ride through this magnificent city of canals, bridges, love, antiquity… I can tell I’m reminiscing too much as I am missing not being able to travel, so I will stop there. But do visit this engineering marvel and see for yourself how this watery wonderland was built if the opportunity ever arises. It’s so worth the journey!