The director of the Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbera, is working on a plan B. In the event that American films are not participating in the Venice Film Festival due to the WGA and SAG strikes, the director has told his festival programmers that the 80th edition of the event “will be a European Pan-Festival”, according to sources familiar with the plans.
Barbera has told his staff that it is too soon to tell how things will play out. “Let’s try to find out what the American producers and directors intend to do,” he said, according to people familiar with the situation. “In the meantime, we are taking steps to create an alternative program.”
sources say THR Rome that the organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 7 to 17, coinciding as usual with Venice, are similarly preparing for the possibility of a limited presence of American films at TIFF . The dispute is generally believed unlikely to be resolved before September.
One of the key issues driving the SAG strike is the state of waste in the streaming age. According to the union, the streaming revolution has decreased the amount of payments artists receive when their projects are repurposed or rerun in a new medium (such as if a theatrically released movie plays on TV by cable). Traditionally, the residues help workers, who normally jump from one job to another, to earn a living during periods of labor shortages.
The strike is having an immediate impact in Venice, which relies heavily on the presence of Hollywood talent and is seen as the unofficial start of awards season. For example, Zendaya, the star of the festival’s opening night film, Luca Guadagnino’s film challengers – would probably be banned from attending the premiere.
Guadagnino, who is currently working between Italy and France on the film Queer, confirms that the situation is very uncertain: “Of course the actors are not going to do promotion,” he says THR Rome. “We have to understand from the studio what they want to do, then we will decide how to proceed.”
This is the context in which Barbera is preparing an alternative program for Venice, which he says could see more international titles in coveted screening slots. “We’ll see. Asian cinema is going through a period of post-pandemic recovery, in that sense if the Americans don’t participate, the focus would be mainly on Europe.”
The festival director has told his staff to “be ready for anything and take nothing for granted.”
A press conference to unveil the Venice lineup is scheduled for July 25 and will still take place as scheduled.