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Venice Film Festival

Hedy Lamarr - Ecstasy

Venice Film Festival

The history of Venice International Film festival dates back to the 30s, when the 6th of August of 1932, and in the context of the 18th Edition of the Venice Biennale (an event dedicated to promoting all types of arts from painting to music) established the International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art, held on the terrace of the Excelsior Hotel in the city.

Two years later, the festival started to be held in competitive basis with the establishment of The Volpi Cup (awarded to the best actor) and The Mussolini Cup (awarded to the best film) and also witnessed the first of its scandals when actress Hedy Lamarr appeared completely nude in the film Extasy (1933).

Over the years, the festival gained popularity but political influences affected its reputation for independency. That was precisely the reason for French and American filmmakers to fund The Cannes Film Festival after Leni Riefenshtal’s Olympia (1938) was awarded as best film in Venice.

The next two decades witnessed major changes in the organization of the festival. In the edition of 1947, Soviet films returned to the competition and in the 50s it continued its international expansion, this time with Japanese films from prominent directors such as Akira Kurosawa, who won a Golden Lion in 1951.

The 60s also witnessed important changes in the event. In the one hand, in 1963 Luigi Chiarini took over the festival and tried to focus the event on reward truly innovative films following stringent aesthetic criteria regardless political affiliations. On the other hand, in 1969 the festival returned to a non-competitive format, an initiative that only lasted a decade.

However, in that new format, the festival continued to give prizes as the one given to Charles Chaplin in 1972 in recognition for his career and contribution to cinema industry in the world.

In the 80s, the festival returned to its competitive nature and also added new sections to present big-budgeted movies such as Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark  (1981) and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982).

Since the early 90's and until recent years, the festival has grown in importance due to initiatives to present premieres of Hollywood films and to invite the major American film stars to promote their films, and therefore the festival. Thus, stars such as Jack Nicholson and Sean Connery occupied the front pages of newspapers covering the festival.




David Lynch

David Lynch

The awards

The prizes that the Venice Film Festival gives include The Golden Lion, The Silver Lion and The Volpi Cup. The first and most important was created –as well as in the Cannes Festival, as a tribute to the symbols of the city, its flag and its coat of arms, in which a yellow lion is portrayed. The Golden Lion is awarded to the best film and is also given in honorific conditions.

The Silver Lion is the second highest award granted by the authorities of the festival. This award has been given irregularly to films competing for the Golden Lion and has sometimes given to the best director, best short film and best newcomer film.

And last but not least,TheVolpiCup. This award wasthe first to begiven by thefestivalwhenit began to haveacompetitive nature in 1934. The prize rewards thebest actorsof the filmsin competition.

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