History of the Venice Film Festival

Manifesto Mostra del Cinema 1932The first edition of the International Venice Film Festival (called 1st International Film Festival of the Art Biennial) was carried out from the 6 to the 21 of August in 1932.

Idea for the Venice Film Festival

The festival was born of an idea of the president of the Biennial of Venice, the count Giuseppe Volpi of Misurata, of the sculptor Antonio Maraini, secretary general, and of Lucian De Feo, secretary general of the Society of Nationals headquartered in Rome, who agreed the review should be held in the lagoon city, and that he would be the first director.

The first film event

With good reason, the festival is considered by authorities to be the first international event of its kind. The first edition was held on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior at Lido of Venice, but was not yet regarded as a competitive review.

Many great classics presented

Although only the names of the films were presented to the public, this edition of 1932 boasted titles of great merit, which later on became true "classics" in the history of cinema; of note "Forbidden", by the great American director Frank Capra, "Grand Hotel" by Edmund Goulding,"The Champ" by King Vidor, the first and unmatched"Frankenstein" by James Whale, "The devil to pay"by George Fitzmaurice, the Italian "Gli uomini, che mascalzoni…" (Men, Those Rascals…) of Mario Camerini, "A nous la liberté" (Give Us Liberty)by René Clair.

In addition to the films cited, in competition were the works of other great directors, such as British Victor Saville – with three films – American Ernst Lubitsch – with two films – Howard Hawks, Russian Nikolaj Ekk, French Maurice Tourneur, German Anatole Litvak and Leni Fiefenstahl.

Exceeded expectations of success

Prominent personages of this first show were the actors that appeared on the great screen through the projected films and guaranteed great success for the festival in every aspect, bringing over 25 thousand spectators to the halls.

Many stars present

Some of the greatest stars of the age were present, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Fredric March, Wallace Beery, Norma Shearer, James Cagney, Ronald Colman, Loretta Young, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, not to forget Italian idol Vittorio De Sica and the great Boris Karloff, remembered for his role as the monster in the first Frankenstein.

The first films presented

The very first film in the festival was shown on the evening of August 6, 1932: "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Rouben Mamoulian; after the film followed a great dance in the halls of the Excelsior. The first Italian film, Gli uomini, che mascalzoni… (Men, Those Rascals…) by Mario Camerini, was introduced on the evening of August 11, 1932.

Acknowledgments by referendum

Due to the lack of a judge and the awarding of official prizes, introduced only later, a list of acknowledgements was decided by popular vote, a tally determined by the number of people flocking to the films, and announced by the Organizing Committee on which presided Attilio Fontana of the I.C.E. – Istituto Commercio Estero (Institute of Foreign Trade): from this the best director was declared – Russian Nikolaj Ekk for the film "Putevka v zizn" (The Road to Life), while the film by René Clair was voted best film.

Retropective on the 60th anniversary

During the 49th edition of the Venice Film Festival in 1992, on occasion of the 60th anniversary, a retrospective in memory of the unforgettable 1st edition was written, entitled "Venezia 1932 – Il cinema diventa arte" (Venice 1932 – Cinema Becomes Art).

The 1930's

The first edition of the International Venice Film Festival (called 1st International Film Festival of the Art Biennial) was carried out from the 6th to the 21st of August in 1932. The festival began with an idea of the president of the...

The 1940's

The 1940's represent one of the most difficult moments for the review. The conclusion of the Second World War divides the decade in two. Before 1938 political pressures distorted and ruined the festival. With the advent of the conflict the...

The 1950's

In the 50's with the arrival of the greatest directors and stars, the importance of the Festival finally is recognized definitively in the international field. The review experiences a period of strong expansion and contributes to the success of...

The 1960's

The 1960's begin with the continuing development and expansion of the festival, in accordance with the artistic plan set in motion after the war. The 1960 edition will be remembered as the most contested review in the history of the festival,...

The 1970's

In the 1970's the competition, along with all its related awards, was abolished. The editions occurring from 1969 to 1979 are therefore non-competitive. The first two years are under the direction of Ernesto Laura, which is then passed to Gian...

The 1980's

The human symbol of the festival's rebirth is surely Carlo Lizzani, director of the review from 1979 to 1982, who succeeded in the arduous task of restoring the festival to its former glory. The festival shines, as always with a wide range of...

The 1990's

The Golden Lion is awarded in 1990 to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard which provokes new controversy. The jury, lead by Gore Vidal, preferred it to the emerging talent and vision of Jane Campion, provoking bitterness among...

The 2000's

Between 2000 and 2001, there is a focus on strengthening the infrastructure, adding new structures next to the historical palaces, rebuilt or created especially for the festival, improving access to the various areas and increasing the total...