Special Report By Moira Sullivan
57th Venice International Film Festival, August 31--September 10, 2000. Part 1
This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International reporting from Venice, Italy.
Every two years in Venice a multifaceted celebration to the arts, called the Biennale is held. The Venice International Film Festival, a part of this pageant, is the one art event that is annual. At the closing press conference, film festival organizer Alberto Barbera and the president of the Biennale Paolo Baratta said that with the advent of DVD and other advances in digital representation, the festival is rearranging priorities. This year for example a special award was given for the film with the best advances in digitalization, awarded by the organizers of the Bologna Future Film Festival. A special conference which took place within the festival was entitled Cinema and the digital revolution , to discuss that if there is to be a New Wave in cinema art, it will be digital.
The organizers spoke about appealing to young people who were a significant part of festival attendees. The biggest problem confronting the festival however is lack of space. Many of the films at the festival’s five theaters on the island of Lido were often sold out.
What is interesting about the Venice Film Festival is not always the films in competition but the filmmakers who choose Venice as the site for their film’s world premiere.Ed Harris certainly will receive a nod for the Oscars for his characterization of Jackson Pollock in his directorial debut: Pollock. Pollock is about the pioneer of modernist art who painted with his feelings even though plagued by depression. Amy Madigan, Harris’ wife in real life plays Peggy Guggenheim, patroness of the arts who gave Pollock his first show. She kept a house in Venice where her collection remains on the Grand Canal today. And Lee Krasner, played by Marcia Gay Harden, took care of Pollock while putting her artistic career on the back burner. Harris who admitted in a press conference to having a slight drinking problem in the past felt an empathy with Pollock. He has been picking up the paintbrush himself in recent years and said he had to do the project.
Barbara Kopple’s My Generation was a well-received documentary on the three Woodstock’s of 1969, 1994 and 1999. The changes and differences of generations are chronicled in Kopple’s film, although ‘striking statistics’ are superimposed over the images giving it a commercial tone. Black and white footage from the 1969 festival is skillfully contrasted with the color of the 90’s festivals.
Three of Stan Brakhage’s avantgarde films were selected for the New Voices section of the festival. ‘Water for Maya’ a new film released this year is a short tribute to avantgarde filmmaker Maya Deren who Brakhage says liked water. Brakhage’s films do not seem planned, in contrast to the work of Deren who plotted out every single detail of her films. For this reason Brakhage later was at odds with Deren, which he documented in his book Film at Wits End , so ‘Water for Maya’ can be seen as a conciliatory gesture towards her legacy.
As film festivals continue to grow it is clear that the Venice Film Festival is one to look at to witness and measure the changing flux of the seventh art, cinema.
This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Venice Italy.
© 2000 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 9/2000
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