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The History of the Venice Film Festival, its cultural significance and the link with the city


“Lights, camera, ACTION!!!”

Venice turn the spotlight on the 2023 International Film Art Exhibition.

80th edition of the Film Festival that will take place from August 30 to September 9.

The poster of  Venice 80 event, conceived by Lorenzo Mattotti, is inspired by the ‘on the road’ narration: a car registered “80” is driving in a colorful landscape. It represents an extraordinary journey, metaphor of the Cinema: it allows us to live lives that are not ours, to widen horizons and travel while remaining where we are.

So… “ACTION, let’s start the journey!!!”


The Lion, in its various iconographic variations, is the symbol of the prize awarded to the winners of the International Film Festival. It is made by a historic 'studio' of stamps and trophies in Venice

The first edition, called “International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art”, took place from 6 to 21 August 1932 at the Hotel Excelsior in Lido di Venezia. The first film presented was “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Rouben Mamoulian.

Among the films screened many titles that have made film history, such as “Frankenstein” by James Whale or “Forbidden” by Frank Capra, to name just a few.

Over 25,000 spectators attended.

The exhibition was attended by some of the stars of the time such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and our Vittorio De Sica.

The screening of the films was followed by a dance on the terrace of the prestigious Hotel: rumors, gossip, fashion and more or less provoked scandals, fueled for days the newspapers.

OIP screen-shot-2016-08-11-at-12-55-26-pm

At Caffè Florian the atmosphere changes when it is chosen as a historical setting:  its furnishings from the second half of the nineteenth century have remained exactly the original ones, thanks to careful restoration. The Sala delle Stagioni (Room of Seasons) is recognizable in the film “Effie Gray” shot in 2014, directed by Richard Laxton and Dakota Fanning starring.

Effie_93 YPH11_Effie_50 Florian

There is a deep relation between Venice and the Cinema. The list of films that have been shot in the lagoon city is very long since it is the perfect place to evoke the whole range of “feelings that surround the facts of life”. Venice is a perfect stage for films thanks to its being suspended between water and sky, which proves that human resilience can become art.

The memory of the first rendezvous at Caffè Florian between Jane (Katharine Hepburn) and Renato (Rossano Brazzi) in Summertime is impressed in several generations’ minds.

download (1) Immagine 2023-07-24 161007 Summertime
il talento di mr. ripley b-n

The beauty and uniqueness of the gallery of Caffè Florian is immortalized in the film “The talented Mr. Ripley”, 1999 thriller with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Rebhorn (picture above) and Jude Law.



Venice welcomes international stars on the red carpet in front of the Palazzo del Cinema. An unmissable event for all movie lovers worldwide.

The “Seventh Art” will parade on the red carpet of the Palazzo del Cinema on the island of Lido di Venezia.

From an idea of the then president of the Venice Biennale, Count Giuseppe Volpi, the festival marked an epochal turning point from a cultural point of view. The creation of this event represented the awareness that Cinema was becoming Art. After poetry, painting, sculpture, music, dance and architecture, Cinema entered the ranks of the Arts.

“Seventh Art”, as defined by the art critic and director Ricciotto Canudo (1877 – 1923) considered the summa of traditional arts. A complete art that uses technology and creativity to communicate messages and emotions to the public through the use of moving images, sounds and narrations.

«Art is not the representation of the real facts, but the evocation of the feelings that surround the facts»

(Ricciotto Canudo)

Venice became the perfect venue for a festival that used to gather together producers, writers, directors and actors from all over the world, and attracted the international jet-set. Depending on the editions, the presence at the competition of foreign countries varied, and this allows us to observe ‘through the films’ frames’ the evolution of geopolitical balance in the world from the 1930s onward.

In the 50s a new awareness grew: Venice could establish itself on the world cinema scene by paying attention to the cultural and artistic aspects in the selection of the films to be admitted to the competition.

A very successful synthesis between the high artistic value of the works presented and a glamorous atmosphere that extends from the Lido to the whole city, with an significant echo in the world of film production.


Opening ceremony and program of events



Presented the program of this eightieth edition on the Biennale’s website and on social media by Roberto Cicutto, President of the Venice Biennale and Alberto Barbera, Artistic Director of the Cinema Sector.


The Festival has various sections:


  • “Venezia 80 Competition” (including “Maestro” on Leonard Bernstein, by and with Bradley Cooper, “Priscilla” by Sofia Coppola, “Ferrari” by Michael Mann)

  • “Out of Competition” (among the others “The Palace” by Roman Poloanski, “Coupe de Chance” by Woody Allen)

  • “Horizons”

  • “Venezia Classics”

  • “Venezia Immersive” (Venice is one of the first film festivals in the world to express interest in Virtual Reality).

The strike of the writers and actors in the United States caused a change in the program: the opening film initially announced – Challengers, by Luca Guadagnino starring Zendaya – was withdrawn.

The exhibition opening will therefore be Comandante, by Edward De Angelis, starring  Pierfrancesco Favino.

The pre-opening evening of Tuesday, August 29 will be dedicated to the actress Gina Lollobrigida, recently disappeared. Two films dedicated to her will be screened within the Venezia “Classics” programme, a project for the recovery and restoration of films that have made cinema history.

Liliana Cavani will receive the prestigious Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award.

Celebrities and personalities of the world of cinema will be there: unexpected encounters in the bustling Venice will be possible for anyone. Lido island is a microcosm in which the world of cinema feels at home.

Conferences, interviews, awards, trendy outfits and a touch of glamour: Venice will be featuring the absolute cinema star.

Important guests and celebrities expected at the Venice Film Festival 2023



Actress Caterina Murino will host the inauguration ceremony of the 80th Venice Film Festival on Wednesday 30 August 2023, at Sala Grande of the “Palazzo del Cinema”, on the Lido island. She will host the closing ceremony on Saturday 9 September, when the winners of the Lions and other official prizes of the Festival will be awarded.

Honored by the role she received she wanted to thank by saying:

Venice has always had a special place in my heart.

All cities in the world are unique, but none can match its majestic beauty”

(To host the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival) is an immense honor and a huge responsibility. I will do my very best to live up to it. Throughout these years I have tried to represent Italy in the world. Now finally I will return home to the most international and prestigious stage that Italian culture possesses.

Celebrities at the Florian



Beating heart of the city, Caffè Florian has always been a must for famous movie stars.

For those who appreciate the sense of beauty and uniqueness, sitting at the Caffé to “let life live”, means to carve out a parenthesis of calm and privacy within a historic place that still rides the wave of success.

We have always collected the signatures and comments of the famous visitors in our ‘golden book’, jealously guarded in our archives.

Charlie Chaplin , Clarke Gable, Max Von Sydow, Michael Caine, Salma Hayek and Clint Eastwood who was enchanted by the atmosphere in the Florian’s Halls.

These are priceless testimonies. Florian’s red sofas have hosted immense talents of all time




Charlie Chaplin_2
Clark Gable
Clint Eastwood 2017
Elisa Sednaoui
Ernest Borgnine
Luca Zingaretti - 12.11.2011 - 2
Summertime movie 1955
Jude Law_2
Max Von Sydow - Copia
Michael Caine
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