Did you know the first ever film festival was in Venice? Known as Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia in Italian, the Venice Film Festival is part of the city’s Biennale, which was founded in 1895 and is a contemporary art exhibit that takes place every two years throughout the city. Count Giuseppe Volpi added the film festival to the roster of events in 1932.
In its inaugural year the festival was held at the Hotel Excelsior and had over 25,000 attendees. While no prizes were awarded, an audience poll recognized Nikolaj Ekk as best director and Give Us Liberty (directed by René Clair) was recognized as the best film of the year. Many celebrities attended the event including Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, James Cagney, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Vittorio De Sica and Boris Karloff. Among the many films screened, the Paramount Pictures classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde opened the festival to great acclaim.
Today the Venice Film Festival is one of the most revered festivals in the world – it is the same caliber as Toronto, Cannes, Berlin and Sundance. Juries comprised of directors, actors and critics award prizes to films, cast and crew including the Leone d’Oro (Golden Lion) for best film, Leone d’Argento (Silver Lion) for best director and the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) for best actor. The 72nd Venice Film Festival is scheduled to take place this week from September 2-12, 2015.