Foreword by the President of la Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta
For the second year in a row, a selection of 29 restored films will be screened, including some from our own Historical Archives, an acknowledgment of the importance of restoration programmes for cinema.
This year, for the second time, we have organized a market, in the wake of the excellent results achieved in 2012; with increased conviction, we are investing to progressively expand it.
Since 2010, when the halt of construction on the new Palazzo del Cinema and the critical conditions of the existing structures led to a state of emergency, we have resolutely and responsibly chosen to intervene on the structures with a programme to refurbish the historic buildings. The renovation of the Sala Grande in 2011, was completed last year with the restoration of the foyer and the renovation of Sala Volpi (moved to the Casinò), of Sala Pasinetti and Sala Zorzi. La Biennale advanced the funds required for these projects.
This year we have renovated the spaces for the press and several fundamental technological systems; we have built a new 150-seat theater at the Casinò. A few weeks ago, the City of Venice allocated the sum of 6 million euro designated to radically renovate the Sala Darsena. The design work is in the final phases, construction will begin in November and the space will be ready for the 71st Venice International Film Festival.
The City’s decision confirms and reinforces the understanding between La Biennale and the City of Venice, and demonstrates that local authorities, despite the financial difficulties of the moment, have chosen to place their trust in the Venice Film Festival, in La Biennale and in its strategies. Summing up, our seating capacity has grown this year to circa 4950 seats, and will rise to 5100 next year (thanks to the renovation of the Sala Darsena), closer still to our goal of 5500, which can be achieved with the renovation of the Casinò. The expanded and improved structures will make it possible to organize the Venice Film Festival in a way that is efficient for the participants and helpful for the visitors; and will allow us to provide better hospitality for the independent Critics’ and Authors’ sections which, with their plurality of voices, enrich the quality of the Venice Film Festival.
We move forward, fully aware of the challenges that await the Festival and in particular the competition from other festivals around the world, which is intensifying as technology, the markets, and strategies for communicating and advertising films continue to evolve.
The selection of the films is the result of two contrasting factors. On the one hand, a growing number of works is being submitted yearly for viewing by the Director and his team (this year they viewed 3470 films including 1534 feature-length films).
On the opposite front, so to speak, the selection must take into account the fact that production companies are increasingly limiting the time and resources allotted in their production and marketing strategies for launching their films. Market strategies are also changing. The Director’s selection process is growing more complex as it must contend with the growing importance of economic factors, and anticipate the aggressive campaigns to attract filmmakers down alternative routes, which can benefit from the changing market geography. This is the purpose of the widespread policy of showing world premieres only.
Compared to the alternatives, it is our experience that the preference for the Venice Film Festival is increasingly based on its prestige and on the conviction that as a platform for launching films, it is founded on the acknowledgment of quality and as such, brings added value to other more routine steps in publicizing a film. This is why we must stay the course by following a precise strategy.
First of all we must ensure cutting-edge film projection and audio technology, and the level of excellence we have achieved in this field has been certified for us by technicians and great directors. It is important to have an adequate number of theaters and audience capacity: the 5000 seats we can count on today and the 5500 we will have tomorrow, in the theaters dedicated to the selections, place us on a level with the top film festivals in the world.
Other festivals benefit from a “context” of functional and receptive structures that we don’t have.
This is another reason why, for certain aspects and as far as possible, we must not “imitate” but “distinguish” ourselves from our competitors.
We can rely on the prestige we derive from our history and the quality of the city in which we are based. The restricted number of films in the selection, which we have confirmed as permanent policy, ensures that the Venice Film Festival is based on a model of Festival that is easier to understand and to enjoy, the corollary for a Festival based on quality (an acknowledgment we have received from prestigious international periodicals); our non-provincial approach, the independence and courage displayed in the selection guarantee the interest, esteem and respect we enjoy around the world, which in turn increase the appeal of our Festival.
The curatorial conception of the role of the Director of the Venice Film Festival, in the style typical of La Biennale, confirms the framework of coherence that ensures our credibility. At the same time, we keep a close watch on the evolution of markets in the “sector” of filmmaking, in which artistic interest and industrial-commercial considerations are both present and must be equally taken into account. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, the impressive and growing number of films submitted for the selection points to the need to intensify the opportunities offered to new generations of filmmakers to work with the most qualified professionals in every field that contributes to the creation of a film and to its quality.
It is in this spirit that La Biennale has developed the Biennale College - Cinema programme.
And it is to everyone, to Alberto Barbera and his collaborators, to the organization of La Biennale, to the MiBACT, to the City of Venice, to our sponsors and to all those who have contributed directly or indirectly, that we wish to convey our most sincere thanks.
President of La Biennale di Venezia