Courtesy of Manori Ravindran
Venice Film Festival organizers are closely monitoring the possible impact of the spread of the Delta variant, but sounded an upbeat note on Monday with artistic director Alberto Barbera saying he was confident “the situation will be much less complicated than Cannes.”
Venice is organizing free COVID tests on site in a number of different locations, but daily testing will likely not be mandatory. Biennale president Roberto Cicutto said proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test will appear automatically on festival attendees’ passes without it being necessary to provide this proof separately.
Also in play this year is the “Green Pass,” which is Europe’s proof of vaccination. Cicutto underlined that, unlike what happened in Cannes, there are moves underway by the Italian government to recognize similar proof of vaccination certifications from other countries.
“There is a political will to have the festival take place in the best possible way,” Cicutto noted.
Barbera and Cicutto, in a press conference, downplayed coronavirus concerns after announcing a Hollywood-heavy lineup involving plenty of A-list star power on the Lido red carpet.
The Italian government announced last week that it would require people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to attend screenings in movie theaters, a precaution Venice will incorporate into its safety measures, but that is not expected –– or at least not hoped –– to put much of a damper on the proceedings.
Barbera said Cannes, which offered free on-site COVID tests for attendees who didn’t have proof of vaccination recognized by the European Union, is “an experience we can gain expertise from.”
“We have a month of time to implement and fine tune [health security] systems that will allow us to make the festival-going experience easier for everyone,” Barbera noted.
He added that “if the situation doesn’t get worse,” entry into Italy from most countries –– including the U.S. and Europe –– is allowed for work reasons, with a negative COVID test and this permit allows a five-day stay.
This is “sufficient time for everyone, including American stars and talents, to come to the festival and promote their films, and go back home with no complications, as long as their countries don’t force them to quarantine,” Barbera said.
There are however currently complications pertaining to entry into Italy from the U.K. with the Italian government requiring that regardless of whether British visitors are vaccinated or not they must self-isolate for 5 days after arriving, at the end of which they must take a rapid antigenic or molecular swab test for COVID-19 and test negative for release.
However those rules are up for revision on July 30. And the “work reasons” clause would apply to British talents and their teams and possibly also to the press.
Travel from China, Barbera noted, is banned. And travelers from Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are also currently unable to enter Italy.
Cicutto said the festival will implement the same modalities as last year –– when Venice was the only major film festival to take place in person –– which included digital ticketing and social distancing in the theaters.
Barbera pointed out that social distancing in theaters, which are likely to run at 50% capacity, will complicate scheduling screenings. “But we will figure out how to organize the calendar,” he added.
The 78th Venice Film Festival is scheduled to run Sept. 1-11
Variety's Nick Vivarelli contributed to this post.