A Brief History of the Venice Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival has a couple of claims to fame. First, it is the first event of its kind, which is the sort of thing that tends to provide a number of prestige points. Second, it is prestigious, so much so that it can command international interest on a reliable basis.

Regardless, the event is held on the Lido, which is a sandbar out in the Venetian Lagoon that measures a total of seven miles. Suffice to say that is more than enough space to host the event, which has its screenings on a local plaza of note as well as other local sites of interest. Some people might be interested to learn that the event is part of a bigger event called the Venice Biennale, which started out as a celebration in honor of King Umberto I but has since become something supportive of the arts as a whole. This can be seen in the full range of events included under its umbrella, which are far from being limited to film-making.

How Did It Get Started?

Simply put, the event is the first event of its kind because it started up at a time when filmmaking as a whole was starting up. It is interesting to note that the first event was non-competitive in nature. Instead, it consisted of nothing but screenings of movies, with the first being a movie adaptation of the famous novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

By the second event, it had started bringing in an international audience, as shown by the sheer number of participants as well as the sheer number of journalists covering their participation. However, the competition was interesting in that it was judged by the President of the Venice Biennale, who consulted people in the audience but nonetheless made his own decision about which movies deserved which honors. Amusingly, the first prize went to a fictional documentary called Man of Aran, which was about the supposed lifestyles of the people living on the titular islands. People who are familiar with this particular period of filmmaking will find it no surprise to know that the man responsible for said fictional documentary was also the man responsible for two other fictional documentaries about the supposed lives of people living in the Far North and the South Seas.

How Has It Fared Since that Time?

Regardless, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Venice Film Festival has suffered interruptions since the start. For example, there were events held throughout the lead-up to the Second World War as well as the Second World War, which are considered to be marred by a combination of political pressure, limited international participation, and other issues. Furthermore, there was a second interruption starting in 1968 and lasting until the late 1970s, which is a period called the Years of Lead. Suffice to say that it was a period of massive political unrest, with the result that the event reverted to a non-competitive model and was held on a somewhat irregular basis. Fortunately, the event has not suffered a similar interruption since that time, which goes a long way to explaining why it has managed to claim its present-day position as one of the most prestigious of its kind.

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