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Venice Film Festival to Return With Masks and Without Blockbusters

Venice Film Festival to Return With Masks and Without
Blockbusters 1

LONDON — The Venice Film Festival announced the lineup on Tuesday for its 77th edition, setting out precautions including temperature checks and new outdoor screening sites for what will be one of the first large international festivals held since the coronavirus pandemic began.

This year’s festival will run from Sept. 2 to Sept 12, with a reduced schedule. Sixty films will be screened in the official selection, as opposed to last year’s 80.

“The show must go on and the world must go on,” said Roberto Cicutto, the president of La Biennale di Venezia, which runs the festival, in a phone interview, adding it was important “to watch and to discuss movies together, to live this art the way we used to live it.”

Films in contention for the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion, include Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” produced by and starring Frances McDormand as a woman living as a nomad after the recent recession; Mona Fastvold’s “The World to Come,” starring Vanessa Kirby and Casey Affleck, which explores the love between two farmers’ wives in 19th-century America; and “Pieces of a Woman,” a family drama directed by Kornel Mundruczo and starring Shia LaBeouf.

Screening in the festival’s nonfiction section will be “Crazy, Not Insane,” a look at serial killers from the director Alex Gibney, as well as “Salvatore Ferragamo: The Shoemaker of Dreams,” a documentary directed by Luca Guadagnino, and “City Hall” from Frederick Wiseman, a look at Boston’s administrative center.

Though Shanghai’s international film festival went ahead in July, the pandemic has forced the cancellation or postponement of most of the gatherings that traditionally structure the year for filmmakers in Hollywood and elsewhere in the West, including Cannes and the Tribeca Film Festival.

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In late March, Italy was the global epicenter of the pandemic and the country was in lockdown for three months. During this time, Venice was empty of its usual throngs of visitors, and some residents rejoiced. Italy started lifting travel restrictions last month.

Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

In order to comply with Italy’s distancing regulations, the festival will keep at least half of the seats in its screening venues empty, and screen guests with temperature checks both as they enter the festival areas and as they go into screenings. Social distancing will be in place throughout the festival and masks will be worn.

Films in the festival’s official selection will be screened more often than usual, in both the usual theaters used by the festival (including Palazzo del Cinema and Palazzo del Casinò) and outdoors, on the site of an ice-skating rink and inside the Giardini della Biennale, the festival’s gardens.

“We are prepared to face this incredible situation and to do it safely, protecting people,” Cicutto said.

Films from more than 50 countries will be screened at the festival, and of the 18 movies competing for the Golden Lion, eight are directed by women. This year, Cate Blanchett is the president of the jury for the main competition, and the director Claire Denis will lead the jury for the festival’s Horizons competition.

The festival will give lifetime achievement awards to Tilda Swinton and the filmmaker Ann Hui.

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