Venice Film Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera, who returns to a position he held more than 10 years ago, tells THR he will oversee a vastly reduced official selection.
Last year's event, the final one under Marco Mueller, played host to 180 films, a selection described by Barbera as simply "too much for the festival and its infrastructure."
Barbera predicts that this year will likely see between 50 and 60 features selected for the lineup at the festival.
"I think it is fair to reduce the number of films so that all the films have the attention and time they deserve," Barbera said. "It will also let us raise the quality of the selection to a higher level because it makes what those films selected even more special."
The festival is looking to grab back some old school glory, glamour and prestige after the fallout of recent years that has seen the upstart Rome Film Festival throw money at its event, grabbing headlines and talent along the way.
Then Rome snagged the services of Mueller earlier this year after the outgoing festival director departed amid rumors of a brouhaha over funding to revamp the Lido venues and cash for expansion on his list of unfulfilled to-dos.
Barbera is confident that ground will be broken on the €50 million ($64 million) project to upgrade and revamp the historic Palazzo del Cinema and add different screens in a variety of existing venues.
He said he's assured that, this time, changes will be made and the plans will start in earnest in the coming weeks after a plan was signed off by the City of Venice, the Biennale parent organization, the Italian government and the festival itself.
"The money is allocated and there," Barbera said.
He will also introduce a small introduction of the Venice Film Market event, building on the foundation of the festival’s Industry Office, and housed in the Excelsior Hotel, the Lido’s only five-star hotel property.
This year's festival runs August 30 through September 3 and so will avoid a direct conflict with the well-established market during the Sept. 6-16 Toronto Film Festival.