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Venice’s Alberto Barbera: “We are prepared to take risks on young filmmakers who deserve a chance to be better-known”

Venice artistic director says Horrizonti day-and-date online initiative could extend to other sections in future, clarifies that Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is not in selection.

Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera was aiming for “a balance of established names and new voices,” in his festival lineup, which was announced yesterday.

Barbera spoke to Screen yesterday afternoon about the impressive festival slate, which features 50 world premieres and new films from Terence Malick, Susanne Bier, Robert Redford, Brian De Palma, Spike Lee, Manoel de Oliveira and Amos Gitai.

“We tried to cast the net widely,” Barbera told Screen. “The selection is characterised not only by big names, but also by new voices.”

Those new voices include the likes of Rama Burshtein, director of competition drama Fill the Void, and Haifaa Al-Mansour, director of the festival’s first Saudi entry Wadjda, which plays in Horizons.

“We are prepared to take risks on young filmmakers who deserve a chance to be better-known,” he said.

The desire to amplify the voices of young talent also motivated the decision to partner with Festival Scope on a day-and-date online screening initiative for films in the Horizons strand:

“I wanted to use the opportunities the web offers to promote new, young filmmakers,” he said.

The virtual screening room, available to 500 viewers at €4, could extend to other sections in future editions, Barbera confirmed.

The competition lineup is slimmer than previous years, a trait that will continue under Barbera in a bid to ensure that each film gets equal exposure: “I don’t like the bulimia that characterises most festivals. A festival should take the responsibility to be more selective. Each film should be equally promoted. If you have 25 films in competition and screen three films a day one of the films is not going to get a great screening time. I don’t want to hide any films,” he said.

Barbera confirmed that each film will screen twice and that he hopes to finalise the screening schedule next week.

Regarding some confusion yesterday about the inclusion of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Barbera said that he had no idea why the film had been mentioned in connection with the festival’s lineup: “I didn’t mention the film. Nobody mentioned the film. It is not in any of our sections.”

Barbera said it wasn’t a conscious decision to include 20 women directors and added that the surprise film will likely be announced late next week.

The 69th Venice Film Festival runs Aug 28 - Sept 9.

Twitter: @andreaswiseman

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