fbpx Biennale Cinema 2023 | Introduction by Alberto Barbera
La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by

Alberto Barbera

Director of the 80th Venice International Film Festival

An interesting moment

We went to bed at night knowing that we'd wake up in the future.”
B. Bertolucci, Before the Revolution (1964)

Film, too, has its seasons. Silent film was spring, the Golden Era was summer, the cinema of the 1980s and '90s was winter. Are we headed toward a new spring?
D. Thomson. The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood (2004)


Are we truly living in an interesting moment in history? The question arises when we seem to realize that a combined effect of uncertainties, difficulties, and chaos is gathering above moviegoers' heads. An almost unprecedented strike is shaking the very foundations of the film industry, already affected by deep anxiety caused by the consequences of the recent pandemic and the ongoing transformation of a market uncertain about its own future. There is a looming threat that, after a two-year-period of enormous investments, financial resources might abruptly be curbed starting next season. Ticket sales in cinemas struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels, aside from the release of a small number of blockbusters, and this threatens the very survival of art-house and independent cinema. Lastly, fear is spreading at breakneck speed of the imminent changes that Artificial Intelligence will cause to the film industry's entire creative and productive chain. Not to mention climate change and an infinite war that are causing unspeakable destruction in local populations and growing anxiety in all of us.

Prophetic words

And yet, even if the audiovisual industry is showing all its fragility, cinema is more alive than ever. The conclusion of the long selection process of the movies submitted to the Venice International Film Festival confirms this, despite the difficulties that were faced, this year, too. This confirmation is not only quantitative but also, and above all, in virtue of the quality of the harvest, to borrow a much-used metaphor. Established filmmakers expressing the best of their extraordinary creative skill; solid directors  confirming their talent and their ability to interpret the present time and its apprehensions; debut directors hot on the heels of those who preceded them, as they trace new pathways to the future that awaits us; and a growing number of women directors, encouraging us to hope in a forthcoming and hoped-for gender equality. Today, more than ever, the words Jean Epstein wrote in 1921 ring prophetic: “Film, like contemporary literature, accelerates unstable metamorphoses. Aesthetics change from fall to spring. People talk about eternal canons of beauty while two consecutive Bon Marché catalogues render these ravings useless.”  This is worth remembering, as we prepare to celebrate the 80th edition of the Festival, with the hope that the program not only reflects the vitality of contemporary film but will also help fuel faith in a future that contemplates daring challenges, but also opportunities and new frontiers.

Biennale Cinema
Biennale Cinema