Jane Campion, Martin McDonagh, Laura Poitras together with Damien Chazelle in the jury of the Venice Film Festival

Venice gears up for a ‘Pan-European Festival’ if SAG hits Hollywood stars from the Lido

Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera is working on a plan B. If American films won’t make it to the Venice Film Festival because of the WGA and SAG strikes, the director told his party planners that the The event’s 80th edition “will be a Pan-European Festival,” according to sources familiar with the plans.

Barbera told his staff it’s too soon to tell how things will play out. “Let’s try to figure out what American producers and directors intend to do,” she said, according to people familiar with the situation. “In the meantime, we are taking steps to create an alternative program.”

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The sources tell THR Rome that the organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival – which takes place from September 7 to 17, as usual coinciding with Venice – are similarly preparing for the possibility that there will be a limited presence of US films at TIFF. The dispute is generally thought unlikely to be resolved before September.

One of the key issues driving the SAG strike is the state of remnants in the streaming age. According to the union, the streaming revolution has reduced the number of payments artists receive when their projects are reused or played on a new medium (such as, for example, if a theatrically released movie plays on cable TV). Traditionally, the residues help artists, who typically move from one job to another, make a living during lean times for work.

The strike is having an immediate impact on Venice, which relies heavily on Hollywood talent and is considered the unofficial start of awards season. For example, Zendaya, the protagonist of the film of the opening night of the festival, that of Luca Guadagnino Challengers – it would probably be forbidden to attend the premiere.

Guadagnino, who is currently working on the film between Italy and France queer, confirms that the situation is very uncertain: “Obviously the actors will not be promoting,” he says THR Rome. “We need to understand from the studio what they want to do, then we’ll decide how to proceed.”

This is the context in which Barbera is preparing an alternative program for Venice, which he believes could see more international titles gain coveted screening slots. “We will see. Asian cinema is experiencing a moment of post-pandemic recovery, in this sense, if the Americans do not participate, the focus would mainly be on Europe”.

The festival director told his staff to “be ready for anything and take nothing for granted”.

A press conference to unveil Venezia’s line-up is scheduled for 25 July and will still take place as scheduled.