In a ground-breaking restructuring of the oldest international film event, Venice film festival chief Alberto Barbera has announced that he will establish two official competition sections at the next edition of the festival. The two Lion awards will carry equal weight.
"The new structure is an attempt for the festival to adapt to the changes that the international film industry is undergoing, such as global releasing," Barbera said. "Having two competitions won't weaken the old competition. Instead, it will be a way of giving more weight to films that are often overlooked by critics, journalists, and the public if they aren't in competition."
The festival's Cinema Of The Present sidebar, which showcases some 30 contemporary, debut and fringe films, will now become a competitive section with its own Lion Of The Year prize. The traditional competitive section will be little changed apart from a new name, Venice 58.
While distinctions between the two competition line-ups have not yet been fully defined, the new Cinema Of The Present section will aim to promote cutting edge quality cinema and Venice 58 will showcase the work of more established directors. Venice 58 will continue to be reserved for art-house fare, while Cinema Of The Present is likely to be more commercial, while. Barbera admits that he expects some crossover.
Films in Venice 58, will be judged by the usual prestigious panel of international Film-makers and critics, while the Cinema of the Present panel will be made up of international film magazine editors and critics.
In a bid to keep everyone happy - and in particular the Hollywood Majors - the festival will still showcase around ten films out of competition.
And while sidebars are being eliminated in the new streamlined event, there will be a New Territories "workshop" section dedicated to experimental cinema and arts. There will also be a Lion of the future award, which replaces the existing award for best first feature
The 58th edition of the festival, which will be characterised for the first time by a logo representing a winged Lion, will run from Aug 29-Sept 8.