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Venice Cinema Biennale

Silvia is currently doing research for the IMA from Venice, Italy.

The Ides of March, a political thriller directed by George Clooney, opened last week to good reviews here at the 68th edition of the Venice Film Festival. The Film Festival is part of the Venice Biennale, an umbrella organization which also includes the major international contemporary art exhibition, which saw the participation of the IMA this year, an international architecture exhibition, and a festival of contemporary music, theatre and dance.

The 68th Venice Film Festival.

Just like the art exhibition, which displays works from over 65 countries, the Film Festival also has an international focus, with films hailing from the U.S., France, Italy, the UK, Israel, Japan, Greece,  etc. Most of the films in competition this year are more or less commercial undertakings representing different genres, from the political thriller (The Ides of March), to the spy story (Tinker, Sailor, Solder, Spy, based on the John le Carré novel of the same name), to the period drama (Wuthering Heights directed by Andrea Arnold and A Dangerous Method by David Cronenberg, based on the turbulent relationships between psychiatrist Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and patient Sabina Spielrein), as well as a number of films that dissect and criticize contradictions and idiosyncrasies of our modern society such as Carnage by Roman Polanski and Dark Horse by Todd Solondz.

One of the most eagerly awaited film at the festival this year is Shame, by British contemporary artist Steve McQueen, who exhibited one of his artwork at the Venice Art Biennale in 2009. Shame, which is a compelling examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives, and the experiences that shape us, is the second feature film by the artist after Hunger, which won the Camera d’Or award for first-time filmmakers at The Cannes Film Festival in 2008. Steve McQueen is not the only contemporary artist to have successfully tried his hand at another artistic genre. Julian Schnabel, for instance, who directed intense films such as Basquiat, and Before the Night Falls and who won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was present this year at the Venice Art Biennale with a retrospective of his work.

Another example of how the distinction between genres is becoming more and more blurred in today’s artistic world is seen in Vivan las Antipodas!, a movie by Russian director Victor Kossakovsky, which was screened yesterday evening out of competition. Part film, part documentary, part visual artwork,  this movie chooses not to follow a specific narrative but rather suggests, through a series of breathtaking and stunning shots, the wonders and contradictions of nature and people in the world’s rare inhabited land-to-land antipodes.

Given the high number of premieres in and out of competition at this year’s Venice Film Festival, as well as the quality of the films shown, my hope is that they’ll be coming to Indianapolis soon.

Filed under: Education, Film, Venice Biennale

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