by Alessandra Cardone
VENICE, Italy, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The world premiere of "Downsizing" by
American director Alexander Payne opened the 2017 Venice Film Festival on
Starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as major characters, the satirical film
tells of a surprising "near future" in which Norwegian scientists discover how
to shrink people to five inches tall in order to make life on planet more
sustainable, and the human community less resource-consuming.
Damon and Wiig -- playing the roles of a middle-class couple -- decide to go
through this irreversible path, and to begin a new life with the first
community for small people in New Mexico. Such choice would change their lives
As expected, a large crowd of fans waited around the red carpet to watch
Matt Damon, American actress Annette Bening -- head of the festival's main jury
-- and the other stars parade in the light of Venice Lido's late afternoon.
Besides Payne's new feature, the opening day was marked by a premiere
screening of "Nico, 1988" by Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli, competing
in the Horizons section devoted to new cinema trends.
The biographical movie focuses on the last years of German musician and
actress Christa Paffgen -- best known by her artistic nickname "Nico" -- singer
of Velvet Underground band and one of Andy Warhol's muses.
Overall, this 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival would feature 21
world premieres contending for the Golden Lion, 22 works out of the competition
-- including eight documentaries and two medium-length films -- and another 19
in the Horizons section.
While Annette Bening leads the international panel that will confer the
Golden Lion, other four juries will preside over the other sections, Venice
artistic director Alberto Barbera explained at the opening press
A large space was devoted to the very novelty of this year: a competitive
section dedicated to Virtual Reality works.
With some 22 titles in competition, the VR section will allow visitors to
choose among seated viewing with visor, stand-up viewing (possibly
interactively), and three-dimensional installations.
This section was being held at the Lazzaretto Vecchio, a small island very
close to Venice Lido that operated as a leper colony in the 15th century, and
has now been opened to the audience of the festival for the first time
"We have given to VR (works) a wonderful space this year, and we meant it,
with the very purpose of declaring our interest in this new reality," Paolo
Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale organizing the festival, told
He added the Biennale would always keep an eye open on the different arts,
and on the evolution of technical and technological progresses offering new
tools to the artistic expression.
"Virtual Reality is not an extension of cinema. It is a new medium being
made possible by new technologies, and great filmmakers are currently making
experiments with it," artistic director Barbera as well stressed at the press
As such, VR works would exist beside traditional movies in the future --
maybe posing challenges, but no "threat" to cinema -- according to Barbera. "VR
would not kill cinema, as much as cinema did not kill any other form of art,"
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