The Venice Film Festival kicks off to a great start

The much-anticipated festival on the Lido opened with the Netflix title 'White Noise' and featured a Competition jury headed by the glamorous Julianne Moore.
The Venice Film Festival kicks off to a great start

There are quite a few wonderful MENA titles featured in this year's Venice Film Festival lineup. In fact, the opening day of the festival also meant the world premiere of Lebanese filmmaker Wissam Charaf's modern neorealism title Dirty, Difficult, Dangerous -- which was the Giornate degli Autori sidebar opening film. But more on that in future articles.

For now, it's all about the red carpets, Noah Baumbach's opening film and the juries' press conference.

At the morning's first press conference, welcoming journalists to the Lido and presenting the juries for this year's edition, La Biennale di Venezia President Roberto Cicutto pointed to the new venue, a "historical room" for our daily catchups and how this was the very "first press conference held here." He told the media how thrilled he was to have American movie star Julianne Moore as head of the Competition jury but also reminded the attendees that "as President of La Biennale stands for much more than cinema, across all the different disciplines" like art, architecture, dance, music and theatre. Cicutto also pointed to the newest member of the cinema section, "La Biennale College Cinema is now 10 years old and is a great success, with films presented here and then shown all over the world."

Then it was the turn of Alberto Barbera, the Artistic Director of the Venice International Film Festival. "I'll be brief as always," Barbera kicked off, and introduced all the jury members, across all the different section -- minus Michelangelo Frammartino, who heads the Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film, who would arrive a day late as his film Il Buco (The Hole) which premiered in Venice last year is being distributed in German cinemas and he needed to be present for the premiere events there.

Leila Hatami at the photocall for the juries

On the Competition jury, Iranian thespian Leila Hatami will serve alongside Moore, as will French-Lebanese filmmaker Audrey Diwan, while Algerian helmer Sofia Djama serves on the Orizzonti jury headed by Spanish film director Isabel Coixet.

As far back as she can remember, Julianne Moore has "been mesmerized by the big screen," and she admitted favoring curation, which is what makes festivals so great. "Curation matters so much, which is why a festival like Venice is so important," Moore said, because of their ability in "gathering extraordinary work." She then talked about her first experience with curation. "It was a Juno, Alaska movie programmer at the the local theater," Moore confessed, where she would watch a mix of "Disney movies, like the Aristocats," mixed with something as diverse as Minnie and Moskowitz by John Cassavetes. "What is this world out there?" the actress remembers then questioning herself. And this was the power what she calls "tremendous curation."

Coixet admitted that "more than a great director," I’m a really great audience," and said her directions as head of the jury to her fellow jury members were simple. "Some people talk after a film, and some like to remain silent -- I’ve been in festivals where people want to kill each other and there are more important things to kill for in the world, so let’s not kill each other." What does the Spanish filmmaker look for in a film? "A coup de coeur. as the French say, something that makes me fall in love."

When Moore was asked about the future of cinema, and the ever changing landscape, she replied, " I feel so often the discussion about the future of cinema is more business oriented. For me it’s more important what we are continuing to make creatively. There will always be different delivery systems, the world is constantly changing, but art doesn’t change. that’s a constant. And that is what Venice is all about." When asked what rules she has for her fellow jurors, she joked "everyone has to dress alike, that’s my rule."

Barbera was of course asked about the ticketing system, which for the accredited industry and press attendees has been a nightmare we wake up to every morning. "If there was a crystal ball to look into the future we could answer that question," he chimed back. He attributed the problem to everyone joining in at once, which of course is true, but unavoidable. He added though that "seats are there, and can be booked," even hours after the opening of the system every two days. And in fact, there were still plenty of seats available for our screening of the opening film earlier in the day.

A still from 'White Noise' featuring Adam Driver

The opening night film White Noise by American auteur Noah Baumbach, is a satirical commentary on our modern existence, where aimless talk and discussing everything and everyone in details has replaced feelings. We don't do, because we talk about it on social media, and we don't experience anything deeply because we discuss our feelings instead. "If it's all around you, you won't hear it" is written on the film's posters around the Lido, and amen to that we say.

Adam Driver delivers one of those spot on performance we have come to expect, from a most unexpectedly wonderful actor, perhaps the most exciting of our times, and Greta Gerwig is simply spellbinding as a woman whose hair outdoes her -- but also everyone around her.

And Julianne Moore wore Valentino on the opening night's red carpet, as you see her in all her splendor (in the header above).

That's it for the first day, you are all caught up.

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