Magazine article Variety

Strong Slate Excites Barbera

Magazine article Variety

Strong Slate Excites Barbera

Article excerpt

FOR THE VENICE Film Festival's 74th edition, festival director Alberto Barbera has assembled what appears to be a strong lineup mixing buzzy awards season hopefuls and potential discoveries, with some VR thrills to boot. The Lido's artistic director spoke to Variety about his selection process in year that could see the Lido become the A-festival to beat.

Having secured world premieres of new films by Alexander Payne, Darren Aronofsky, George Clooney and Guillermo del Toro, Venice seems to have come out on top. Is that how you see it?

There were lots of great movies this year; but we all wanted those specific seven, eight or 10 titles, which made things a little bit more complicated ... so [in this case] the normal, logical thing to do is to say: 'Fine, we all like it [a title]. Let's have it go to all three festivals. That way we are all supporting a movie that we believe in ... if instead what kicks in is competition between festivals, the ego clash of someone saying: 'I got it first'; or, 'If you show it, I'm not going to show it,' then it all spirals into a devastating, uncontrolla- ble logic.

Well I think we've seen Toronto adopt that logic in the past.

Until a few years ago, Toronto was the place [for] studios [to do] their domestic launches. Now that's a bit less so, because Toronto has become too big; there are too many movies there. Movies that go to Toronto don't have the same opportunity to gain value that it used to offer. ... Instead, what has happened is that the prestige of Telluride, which used to take very few films, and showed them without announcing them, has increased. Going to Telluride has become a prestige thing; [even] more so than [its] actual impact.

How would you describe the difference between premiering a movie in Venice and in Telluride?

In Telluride, you have 10 critics who write for the trades; in Venice you have 3,000 journalists from around the world. That is the difference. If you promote a film in Venice, you are promoting it internationally. If you don't care about international, fine. But if you want an international launch, you have to come to Venice. If you don't come to Venice, forget it! That said, there are ways of solving the problem of the overlapping dates. This year with several films we worked things out to allow directors to come to Venice and then segue to Telluride . it was a win-win situation, aside from some extra airplane fares, but I think it was worth it.

But Venice is clearly not a mere driver for the U.S. awards season.

Of course. The movies we are launching for awards are a half-dozen. Then there are 60 more. This year we have 15 new directors who have never been to Venice before. We have a very large number of first works, and works by directors who are not known names. Titles that are borderline experimental; that are radical attempts to find new forms of expression. That's what Venice continues to be. Of course these days you can't have a [major] festival without a red carpet or big-name directors who win Oscars and sell tickets. But then there is all the rest, and the variety of all this is especially extreme this year. There is really a bit of everything in all the sections. There aren't more films than usual; but it seems like that because it's so varied.

So aside from hot U.S. movies can you tell me what else you were looking for this year?

I can tell you what we are not looking for that anymore: "festival movies." I don't think festivals can continue to select movies that correspond to an ideal of auteur cinema that existed until some time ago, but that today unfortunately is no longer sustainable due to the evolution of the industry. …

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