A film festival is about more than just the films and the festival center. It is about the location, the journey, the experience. Here on Deadline we’ll be bringing you updates on what it’s like to be on the ground at the Venice Film Festival, the world’s first major COVID-era film event.
Tuesday 1 September, day 0 of the festival
Maybe this year it should be ‘the red wall’ rather than the red carpet. Among the more striking differences this edition is a two-meter wall erected in front of the red carpet (pictured above). Presumably, this safety measure has been put in place to minimize the usual crowds that gather to see the stars treading the carpet before screenings.
We had our temperatures checked on entering the main festival center but it was all quick and painless. Getting my press pass went smoothly, even if it was harder to hear the server between two masks and plexiglass. The festival center was quieter than usual for day zero but not a ghost town. The event doesn’t officially begin until tomorrow after all.
Venice Film Festival: Early Impressions Traveling To The First COVID-Era Festival
In recent years the festival has had a number of glossy billboards for big studio movies. Not so this year with fewer of those in the lineup. The long approach to the festival center was devoid of posters and the billboards in front of the Sala Grande display more sponsor ads and Italian films than in recent editions.
Earlier today I had my first acquaintance with the new online booking system for press screenings. It’s not the easiest to navigate but I managed to book three tickets in around 20-25 minutes. The system has been introduced to avoid crowds and to ensure that seating is distanced in the cinemas. The screenings will only be at 50% capacity and there are extra press screenings to ensure that everyone can see the films they want to see. From what I could make out online there should be plenty of seats available. Tomorrow morning’s first press screening still had plenty of available spots, for example.
It’s a frustration the festival doesn’t have its own booking app, something I’m sure other festivals will introduce. Here, you need to go through a third party portal, which is a little clunky and the site crashed on me a couple of times. But after clicking through multiple pages and receiving a bunch of emails I did finally manage to get my tickets on my passbook. I think that once tickets are booked you can also just flash your badge. The process requires passwords, logins and some patience. It won’t be easy for those who are not tech savvy.
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