The Venice Film Festival ended as it began, with excitement and awe. Nothing remarkable occurred on the opening or closing night because the magic of the festival is not defined by it’s bookends, but in the entirety of the celebration itself. Unlike other festivals where press conferences and film premieres reign supreme and obstruct the surrounding environment, The Venice Film Festival is part of the culture. The heart of Italy beats throughout the festival. It permeates through the streets; the rhythm felt in the cracks of roads unpaved. Venice is the perfect place to celebrate film for every corner has a story and you become the blank canvas.
It didn’t start with the usual hysteria since the opening festivities were cancelled in respect to the victims of one of Italy’s most devastating earthquakes. The official quote from the Festival reads, “La Biennale di Venezia offers its sincere condolences, and expresses its deepest sympathy to the victims of the recent earthquake, and offers its utmost solidarity and support to the communities struck.” Although the opening gala was cancelled, the celebration of film and life continued with La La Land which received critical acclaim. Magnificent Seven starring Denzel Washington, closed the festival with a standing ovation. Paying tribute to old Hollywood, the festival started with a musical and ended with a western. The resurgence of a time forgotten in a city that never forgets.
Behind the seemingly chaotic excitement with fans screaming and the infinite flashes of light from paparazzi, the festival ran smoothly. All the highly anticipated films received tremendous acclaim including Hacksaw Ridge, Nocturnal Animals, The Light Between Oceans, and The Arrival to name a few. The beauty of this festival is also in it’s determination to highlight lesser “Hollywood Films” to equal red carpet glory. A couple of these movies include Dark Night directed by Tim Sutton and The Bad Batch directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.
Overall, the festival was perfect, both in it’s celebration of film and the much deserved awards. Lav Diaz’s The Woman Who Left stole the show and won The Golden Lion and Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals stole the audience’s hearts and won The Grand Jury Prize.
This festival is catered to everyone who loves film. Journalists lounge on pillows drinking an afternoon glass of wine or espresso while waiting for their next interview. Cafes serve tramezzini and gelato to members of the press until all hours of the night, while celebrities sail on their private yachts to their movie premiere. Everyone has their respected place. Although other film festivals create similar environments, Venice has something intangible that is impossible to duplicate – enchantment. It’s real life magic and it’s undeniable in every moment.