For the sixth year in a row, I covered the Venice International Film Festival for FRED Film Radio, the online talk radio about all things cinema that I have collaborated with for a long time. There, I interviewed several guests, including directors and producers who presented movies within the program of the festival, which was the first of the major international film festivals to hold a physical edition.
Here is a selection of five of the video interviews I conducted at the Lido di Venezia.
Director Hilal Baydarov on his film In Between Dying, presented in competition at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.
Director Julia von Heinz talks about And Tomorrow the Entire World, presented in competition at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.
Actress Isabel May talks about her role in Run Hide Fight, presented out of competition at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.
Director Ann Hui talks about her latest film, Love After Love, presented out of competition at the 77th Venice International Film Festival. The director was also honored at the festival with a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.
Director Ana Rocha de Sousa talks about her feature debut, Listen, presented in the Orizzonti section of the 77th Venice International Film Festival.
More of my interviews from the 77th Venice International Film Festival are available on fred.fm/.
Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted and produced by globe-trotting arts presenter Matt Micucci, and features plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.
Listen to Episode 23 via one of the players below.
In this episode:
The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa;
Marcel Duchamp and the beginning of post-modernism;
Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.
(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)
What is The Art Movement?
My thoughts on the negative feedback on this year’s Venice International Film Festival program.
Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper were unruly geniuses.
What is art nouveau?
Who is Alfons Mucha?
Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.
I have to mention one of the films of the 2020 program of the festival that immediately stood out. It’s a film called Hopper/Welles. It’s having its premiere in Venice. And I looked into it a little bit. Apparently, it’s just a 129-minute long conversation between Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper. Officially, it’s down as being directed by Welles.
That would make Hopper/Welles yet another recently discovered, posthumously released film by Orson Welles, following The Other Side of the Wind, the lost and unfinished Orson Welles film that saw the light of day in 2018. And it actually premiered in Venice that year too, and I was there to see it. I went to a late night press screening of it and interviewed the editor who basically put the final piece together.
The Other Side of the Wind starred John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich, obviously two great directors in their own right. And very few people thought that film would ever see the light of day. But when I went to that late night screening, first of all, the room was packed. Which is rare for a late night screening.
But also, something happened I had never seen and I don’t think I have ever seen again. As soon as Orson Welles’ name popped up during the opening credits, people just applauded enthusiastically and some people jumped up on their feet.
Like, this guy. We all love him, man. And that just goes to show how exciting we all were and we even forgave the film for being kinda meh in the end. It was still very cool to be one of the first people in the world to have seen it. Although I did ask myself whether Welles himself would have been happy that the film that he refused to complete had actually been screened.
But I’m just thinking about Hopper/Welles. Obviously, I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie whether I go to Venice this year or not. I’m still not sure and I’m not really sure I would want to go. I’ll only go if the money is right. Otherwise, I’ll sit this one out and focus on myself. I’d go if I got to be a member of the jury. But anyways.
Like, when I think of Welles and Hopper, I see so many similarities between them. Both were obviously revolutionary figures in American film history. Both were also prone to excesses. Welles died an enormously obese man and an alcoholic. Hopper struggled with sever drug problems and alcohol addiction for most of his life.
But men’s directorial debuts were groundbreaking. Citizen Kane by Orson Welles from 1941 still, to this day, routinely tops Best Movie Ever lists and rightly so, in my opinion. And Hopper’s first movie, Easy Rider, which he co-directed with Peter Fonda in 1969. That film essentially kickstarted the most exciting film movement in American film, known as New Hollywood.
In fact, Hopper almost put an end to this entire movement with that disastrous production of The Last Movie, released in 1971. Actually, the film itself is great in my opinion. And it was more the production itself, just how amazingly chaotic it was. I mean, you want to read about it. It almost ended Hopper’s career outright. His relationship with the studios kind of never recovered. And really, who knew more about troubles with the American studio system than Orson Welles.
I mean, they were also both renaissance men and so it’s going to be interesting for sure to see what these two guys would have talked about on that specific date. I do hope the film will present the conversation uncut. I am not interested in contemporary critics or contributors popping up on the screen every now and then to tell us all how great they were. Dennis Hopper and Orson Welles are two guys that you see and you know, even just by their sheer unparalleled charisma, how great they were.
Several film festivals have had to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic but the Venice International Film Festival looks set to be the first major international film festival to hold a physical edition since the coronavirus outbreak. So, the festival will take place in Venice, Italy, from the 2nd to the 12th of September and the lineup was announced last week.
The program is obviously not that Hollywood heavy as that of previous editions. This too is because of the pandemic and the ways in which it has impacted film production. But it’s also because so many of the big stars simply won’t be able to travel because of all the travel restrictions and so on that we all know about and are familiar with at this point.
Some film critics have, pardon the pun, been critical of the lineup precisely for that reason. Where are the big movies? Where are the big stars? And it kind of makes me sad to hear that despite the challenges that Venice has had to overcome, people would complain about the quality of the program simply because of the lack of A-listers who will be walking down the red carpet of the Lido di Venezia this year. If indeed, there is to be a red carpet at all this year. I’m not even 100% sure.
But here’s what I think about that. First of all, if I take a look at the list of filmmakers who will be premiering movies at the Lido this year, I see such names as Michel Franco and Andrei Konchalovsky, as well as Chloe Zhao in the main competition. And they may not be famous as Steven Spielberg but they are revered directors, especially among arthouse film lovers. Then Luca Guadagnino, Abel Ferrara. I mean, there are some notable names there indeed.
But aside from that, these destructors. It seems to me that they forget that it is the role of film critics at film festivals to make discoveries and communicate their discoveries to the rest of the world.
It’s far too easy to talk about a movie like Joker, which actually premiered in Venice last year. It’s obviously a bit tougher to talk about the obscure Iranian film that could end up being a masterwork of our time but would most likely not garner the same type of mainstream reaction as the Joker on social media. I mean, it’s not going to get you a tenth of the likes on social media.
And that’s what it’s become about and it’s the problem of art criticism as a whole. They’ll write about any little, stupid think that jokester Banksy does but won’t necessarily go out there and discover the art that’s harder to find. Most likely because it’s not going to get the type of exposure for either the media or the journalist. So, it all becomes this never-ending, self-service, vicious cycle that’s not going to do anybody any favors in the long run.
But I think the role of film festivals is yes, absolutely, to celebrate the art of cinema and offer a platform for those mainstream movies to legitimize themselves in the eye of the arthouse snobs. But importantly, it should also be about and is about giving arthouse and more challenging movies some type of exposure too. The pis, therefore, that some of the media that the big movies at film festivals attract will get those smaller movies a mention. Even when it’s a peripheral mention in an article that is 70% about the latest Marvel movie, it’s still something.
I for one am more conflicted about whether or not it was the right thing to do by Venice to hold an edition of the festival at all this year. On the one hand, I don’t think it will be safe, no matter what precautions they are taking. Like, there will be more outdoor screening sites and there will be temperature checks and so on. But I’m not sure it’s still going to be that safe.
On the other hand, I do also think that it would be disastrous if film festivals did not show their support and give movies a chance to grab the attention of film distributors and so on at this time of need. And that’s mainly for two reasons. One is that if they’re not exhibited, these films risk disappearing off the face of the planet without having been given a chance and the consequences of that could be disastrous for the global cultural heritage in the long run.
The second reason, very important, is that cinema is also an industry, populated by craftsmen and workers of the sector, many of whom have found themselves in financial dire straits as film productions have shut down all over the world. Many of these workers are also freelancers with no contracts, who are making no money whatsoever as productions have been halted.
And so, as I consider the challenges of a major film event like the Venice International Film Festival, I remember that it’s just a challenging year for everybody and people should be expected to do a little more than they are maybe used to, just to get by. Film critics included. If that’s what we gotta do, that’s what we gotta do.
Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about the arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted by globe-trotting art presenter Matt Micucci, featuring plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.
Listen to episode 20 via one of the players below.
In this episode:
Alfons Mucha and art nouveau;
Venice International Film Festival 2020 program announced;
Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper: unruly geniuses;
Thelonious Monk lost album release indefinitely called off.