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Alberto Barbera • Director of the Venice Film Festival

"The internet will become the platform through which films will be viewed in the near future"


- The “Sala Web” for Orizzonti films at the Venice Film Festival is an opportunity for cinema lovers the world over to connect with the Festival

Alberto Barbera  • Director of the Venice Film Festival

After its success in the last two years, the Sala Web returns to the 71st Venice Film Festival for the Orizzonti section and the Biennale College (read the article). The showings will be held in streaming at the same time as the official movie screenings on the Lido.

Cineuropa: How did the idea come about to develop the “Sala Web” at the Venice Film Festival?
Alberto Barbera: Using the argument that the function of festivals and their place within movie promotion strategies is changing, I asked myself how we could boost the Venice festival mission, i.e. to support independent films and auteur films, cinema that has less commercial success. I asked myself how it would be possible to use new technologies for this action, which is part of the very meaning of the festival.

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When we talk about new technologies we think straight away about the Web. The internet will become the privileged, non-exclusive platform through which films will be viewed in the near future. The question came to me spontaneously: how could a festival ensure that the opportunity to exploit that potential did not pass it by; potential that’s not yet fully realized?

Thus we set up a VOD platform to screen some movies. These movies will be visible all over the world, online, from 9 pm on the day of their screening in Venice up until five days afterwards.

The Sala Web allows audiences the world over to be “connected” with the Venice Film Festival to discover the authors and films that represent the most innovative aesthetic and expressive trends of world cinema.

Which films will be shown? Is there a specific production strategy?
The movies that will be visible online are from the Horizons section. It will be possible to view Eleven out of 18 movies online.

As for the production strategy, the VOD screening is not geared towards films that have definite circulation potential, rather it’s for those films that are weaker in that regard and that are thus more in need of promotional assistance.

What’s new to this third edition?
Compared to the first two editions this year we’ve taken another step forward. For the moment tickets on sale have gone from 600 to 800. In addition, there are two platforms. Screenings, for the Venice Film Festival, will be shown internationally, on the site operated by Festival Scope, whilst anything in Italian territory will be shown on We’ve also boosted promotion of this activity, which was perhaps lacking in previous years.

What has the reaction of professionals and distributors in particular been to this initiative?
Some distributors have not agreed that their films be placed online, feeling that this would damage the sale of rights. That said, the majority of professionals - producers, directors, sales and distribution agents – have agreed to their films being shown, obviously with a limited number of places and for a specified number of days.

With the Sala Web, the market, the partnership with the European Parliament LUX Prize, the Venice Film Festival is determined to launch itself internationally.
That’s true. The desire is to work really hard in order to increase international partnerships. This policy is linked to the festival’s ability to remain as what it has always been in the past: one of the most important international reference points, in a jam-packed events calendar. If we wish to continue to be the proud holders of the title of being amongst the two or three biggest world festivals, a date with the most eminent professionals is not a date to be missed. We must have the capacity to boost this international dimension.

Digital tickets will be available from 18 August on the Biennale web site. Access to the screening of the pre-selected film will be possible once you have registered, paid for the ticket (4 euro) and obtained a personal link which will permit a one-time viewing. Each movie (in original version with English subtitles) will be available for viewing in streaming for a period of 5 days starting from 9 pm (Italian time) on the day of the official movie screening on the Lido.

(Translated from Italian)

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