“We were a little bit worried at the beginning, of course,” said festival director Alberto Barbera. “We knew that we had a very strict plan of safety measures and we were pretty sure about that, but you never know.”
Hong Kong director Ann Hui almost didn’t make it after she couldn’t get on her flight because of virus border restrictions. In the end, she arrived to collect her Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award and to see her out-of-competition film “Love After Love” make its world premiere.
Movie lovers applauded Venice’s effort and the symbolic significance of the world’s oldest film festival charting the path forward.
“It’s a moment of rebirth for everyone, for the whole world,” said Emma Dante, the Italian director of the in-competition film “The Macaluso Sisters.” “This festival is really an important moment of encounter, of beginning to dream again and be together again, even with the norms and following all the safety protocols.”
Film writer Emma Jones said aside from “a few teething problems” with the online reservation system, the festival went off better than she expected.
“It feels safe in there, it feels socially distanced,” she said of the venues.
Jones noted that the lineup of films lacked the usual Hollywood blockbusters — think “La La Land,” and “The Shape of Water” — that have used Venice as a springboard to Oscar fame. While the festival featured films from Iran, India, Australia and beyond, it was heavily European.