Venice director Moritz de Hadeln has introduced a raft of new elements to the film festival, and while keeping the double competition established last year by Alberto Barbera, he will ensure that this time the differences between the two sections are more clearly defined.
In line with the simplicity advocated at Cannes this year for its competition and Un Certain Regard sections, Venice (Aug 29-Sep 8) will showcase established talent in its main Venice 59 competition, while dedicating its second competition to a line-up of experimental titles and debuts.
Clarifying the boundary between the two sections, de Hadeln has renamed the new Cinema of the Present section "Controcorrente" (Against the Mainstream), and to avoid confusion with Venice 59's Golden Lion, he has re-christened the section's Euros 50,000 top award as "San Marco" from last year's Lion of the Present.
During his first press conference on the Lido, De Hadeln announced that Venice 59 will also have its own fair share of innovations: A new prize will be awarded to feature-length movies for "exceptional individual contribution", to be handed out alongside the traditional Golden Lion Award, Director's Award, Grand Jury Prize, Volpi Actor and Actress award, and Mastroianni award for Best New Acting Talent.
The 'main' section will also introduce a competitive strand for short films, with three prizes: The Silver Lion for Best Short Film; UIP Prize for Best European Short Film; and a Special Mention. The section will also feature international premieres out-of-competition.
Other innovations include the introduction of market-style Venice Screenings, to encourage on-site dealmaking between buyers and producers, who often move on quickly to the more business-oriented Toronto Film Festival.
Meanwhile, the festival will also present its traditional Critics Week sidebar, featuring seven feature debuts selected by Italy's National Critics Union; the New Territories section for experimental short films, medium-length and feature-length pictures; and Esterno Notte, select screenings in collaboration between Venice's regional government and the Biennale, to be held on mainland Venice.
A Euros 100,000 Lion of the Future - Luigi de Laurentiis prize will also be handed out by Filmauro, Aurelio de Laurentiis's Rome production and distribution outfit, to the best first film in any section of the Biennale.
While no festival titles were officially announced at the press conference, speculative rumours focused on Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York, Franco Zeffirelli's Callas Forever, Tian Zhuangzhuang's Springtime In A Small Town and Sergei Bodrov's The Bear's Kiss.