The Venice film festival is an authoritative and respected platform for cinema. In its 69th year, Swide celebrates the 5 most important moments (in our opinion) of the Venice Film Festival that changed the history of cinema
The Venice Film Festival is steeped in history itself. The idea for a non-competitive festival emerged during the XVIII Biennale di Venezia in 1932, under the leadership of Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata. The reasons behind the festival were many, including the nationalistic impetus of wanting to display Italian cinema on the international stage, in keeping with Fascist artistic patronage and search for supremacy in all camps. The first movie to be shown was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Rouben Mamoulian.
In its rich 69-year history the Venice Film Festival made a name for itself as a pinnacle of cinematographic critique, and here are Swide’s 5 favourite moments which helped to contribute to the Festival’s reputation today.
In 1951 the Japanese film Rashômon by Akira Kurosawa was awarded the Golden Lion for best film. This was the first time a Japanese movie was shown in the West, let alone win a prestigious accolade. From then, Venice became the first port of call for cinema from the East to enter Europe, regaining Venice’s once great tradition of the bridge between East and West.
Marlon Brando consolidated his career as an actor and position as heartthrob during the 1954 edition of the Venice Film Festival. The handsome actor’s appearance at the Lido mesmerized festival goers and women around the globe, while his performance in On the Waterfront, by Elia Kazan, won him the love of movie critics the world over. The movie was nominated for 12 Oscars in February 1955 and won 8 of them, including Brando’s first best actor award.
In 1988 another icon of contemporary cinema was launched into the stratosphere by the Venice Film Festival. Pedro Almodovar, a relatively unknown Spanish director and screenwriter presented his movie Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The film won the Osella prize for best story, and Pedro Almodovar’s name became etched in international cinema.
The 56th edition of the Venice Film Festival was inaugurated with the premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s last film, a posthumous production of Eyes Wide Shut. Then Hollywood golden couple and protagonists Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman ignited a flame of Hollywood glamour on the still waters of the Lagoon, and perhaps from that point, the Venice Film Festival regained its reputation as an internationally important cinema fair for critics, film buffs and mega superstars.
In 2005 the Venice Film Festival contributed to making a mark in the history of film by screening and awarding the Golden Lion to Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. The movie, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger is a great love story between two cowboys which, like all great loves ends in tragedy. The film became the first main stream production not only to address the love between two men, but also to show their effusions on screen. The film caused a stir, but in the end, the story, the intensity of the direction as well as the sheer talent of the actors made this film into a historic piece of cinematographic culture as well as historical moment in the Venice Film Festival’s 69 year history.
Written by: Valentina Zannoni