62th Venice International Film Festival

Italy, August 31 - September 10 2005

The jury

Klaus Eder (Germany), Derek Malcolm (UK), Pamela Biénzobas (Chile), Esin Kücüktepepinar (Turkey), Hassouna Mansouri (Tunisia), Mathilde Lorit (France), Karel Och (), Saul Symonds (), Gabriele Barrera (Italy)

Awarded films

It is always nice to visit Venice. The festival, however, faces problems. It doesn’t take place in the city but on the tiny island of Lido . While the festivals of Cannes and Berlin have built up new palaces and facilities to ensure they run smoothly, Venice still uses the palace put up by Vittorio Mussolini, the dictator’s son, over 60 years ago, which has almost no surrounding facilities (not to talk about coffee shops or restaurants — you survive from sandwiches). Moreover, the respective government in Rome pulls the strings at the festival. No fest director has stayed more than four years, with each government appointing a new director of its choice — and in Italy governments change with an astonishing frequency. This makes long-term planning of the festival a near impossibility. One can’t, however, reproach Marco Mueller, the current director, for that. He can only ‘administrate the defects’. He has improved the organization (at least this year projections started on time). He invited far too many Asian films (amongst them restrospectives of Japanese and Chinese cinemas which were worth seeing but impossible to catch), and also invited a considerable selection of European (in particular French and Italian) films. He managed to bring quite a lot of stars to the Lido. But this cannot conceal the fact that the festival needs an overral improvement and revival. Already, a lot of film companies, directors, and critics prefer the Canadian festival of Toronto (starting when Venice is still going on) — and which over the last few years has made a meteoric rise. Next year, Venice will have to face another rivalry: a new festival in Rome, in October, organized under the patronage of Rome’s mayor Walter Veltroni, possibly headed by festival veteran Giorgio Gosetti (who organizes the Venice “Authors’ Days”), and equipped with the extraordinary budget of seven million Euros. (The fact cannot be ignored that this rivalry is a cultural war between the left-wing Veltroni and the conservative Berlusconi administration of which the Venice festival is a part). To put it another way: if nothing is improved, the ‘Biennale Cinema’ will slowly sink into the sea, centimeter by centimeter. (Klaus Eder)