Everything Filmmakers + Moviegoers Need to Know About the Venice International Film Festival

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Despite complications arising from the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, the 80th Venice International Film Festival will still take place at Venice Lido from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9. Here’s everything you need to know, including a rundown of the fest’s prestigious awards, how the strike may impact the event, and the ways you can become involved as a filmmaker or moviegoer. 


What’s the history of the Venice International Film Festival?

Venice International Film Festival


Beginnings: Established in 1932, it’s the oldest film fest in the world. That year, the 18th Venice Biennale debuted the Esposizione d’Arte Cinematografica (the Film Art Exhibition), which ran from Aug. 6–21. The idea was to enrich the public arts forum with screenings of Italian and international films. The festival was founded by then-Biennale president Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, sculptor Antonio Maraini, and critic Luciano De Feo.

Early films: Nine countries were represented at the inaugural festival. Multiple entrants were destined to become cinema classics, including Rouben Mamoulian’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night,” Edmund Goulding’s “Grand Hotel,” James Whale’s “Frankenstein,” and René Clair’s “À Nous la Liberté.” Though the fest didn’t give out any awards in 1932, the audience selected “À Nous la Liberté” as the best film. 

Location: Since 1937, the fest has been headquartered at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido. The event continued into the first few years of World War II, but it was relocated between 1940 and 1942 to escape bombing; it then went on hiatus until 1946. The 1947 festival took place at Venice’s Ducal Palace, where audience numbers ballooned to 90,000. The event returned to the Palazzo del Cinema in 1949, where it’s been held ever since.

Controversies: When the event resumed after the war, it found itself in conflict with the newly established Cannes Film Festival in more ways than one. With the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, Venice had become a mouthpiece for fascist and Nazi propaganda. France responded by founding Cannes in 1939. But the first festival wasn’t to be: The event was scheduled to begin on Sept. 1—the very day German forces invaded Poland, setting WWII in motion. Instead, Cannes debuted in 1946. The Venice organizers agreed to move its dates to late September so it wouldn’t overlap with Cannes. 

The Venice Film Fest’s international esteem took another nosedive after widespread protests across Europe in 1968. Students demanded changes at the Venice International Film Festival, arguing that it encouraged the commodification of art. 

Awards: Handing out honors became a regular component of the festival. While film awards were suspended from 1969–79, director Carlo Lizzani reinstated them in 1980, including awards for retrospectives, experimentation, and spectacular projects and remakes. He also brought back the Golden Lion for films.

  • Coppa Mussolini: The first official award, the Coppa Mussolini, was introduced in 1934 and discontinued after WWII.
  • Leone d’Oro (Golden Lion): The festival’s most prestigious award for best feature film, the Golden Lion, was first given in 1949. The winged lion statue is inspired by the symbol of Venice, San Marco’s Lion, which is seen all over the city, including on the city’s flag. In fact, the award was originally known as the Golden Lion of San Marco before changing to the simpler Golden Lion in 1954. Another Golden Lion prize, this one for Lifetime Achievement, was awarded starting in 1969.
  • Leone d’Argento (Silver Lion): The Silver Lion award currently recognizes the best directing in a feature film. Silver lions have also been awarded irregularly throughout the years for best first work, first film, screenplay, and short film; revelation; and second best feature film.
  • Coppa Volpi: This award for best actor and actress was introduced in 1935 and named after the fest’s first president. 
  • Orizzonti: The fest’s Orizzonti section, an international program with its own selection of films, has its own jury and prizes as a sidebar to the major competition, covering “aesthetic and expressive trends” in cinema and filmmaking.

Who selects the films that screen at Venice?

The festival director chooses the films for the entire festival, with assistance from staff and global correspondents. Each year, submissions are open internationally for the different sections of the festival. After receiving submissions, the selection process begins. 

Alberto Barbera has been the artistic director of the fest since 2011. This is his second time in the position, which he previously held from 1999 to 2002. Critics like David Rooney and Richard Lawson credit Barbera for inviting studio films to premiere at Venice that later go on to win major awards. However, the director has also gotten backlash for his choice to extend festival invitations to filmmakers Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and Luc Besson, despite their histories of sexual assault and/or harassment allegations.

When and where will the 80th Venice International Film Festival take place?

The 2023 festival will take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9 on the Lido, a barrier island in the Venetian Lagoon. The event’s headquarters is the Palazzo del Cinema, which was built in 1937 in the Modernist style. Major screenings—as well as the awards ceremony—are held in the 1,032-seat Sala Grande. Other venues include the Palazzo del Casinò, the Palabiennale, and the Sala Giardino.

Who votes on the winners?

Venice International Film Festival

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The festival convenes new juries each year, who award prizes across multiple categories. This year’s include the Venezia 80, chaired by Oscar winner Damien Chazelle; the Orizzonti, chaired by 2011 Venice short film winner Jonas Carpignano; and the Luigi De Laurentiis Venice Award for Debut Film, chaired by Alice Diop, who won the award herself in 2022. The juries are composed of leading cinema professionals, including actors, filmmakers, producers, and critics. There’s also the Venice Immersive jury, which is part of the Biennale College Cinema program.

What are the Venice award categories this year?

Venezia 80:

  • Golden Lion for best film
  • Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize
  • Silver Lion for best director
  • Coppa Volpi for best actress
  • Coppa Volpi for best actor
  • Special Jury Prize for best screenplay
  • Marcello Mastroianni Award for best new young actor or actress


  • Orizzonti Award for best film
  • Orizzonti Award for best director
  • Special Orizzonti Jury Prize
  • Orizzonti Award for best actress
  • Orizzonti Award for best actor
  • Orizzonti Award for best screenplay
  • Orizzonti Award for best short film

Luigi De Laurentiis:

  • “Luigi De Laurentiis” Award for a Debut Film

Venice Immersive:

  • Venice Immersive Grand Prize
  • Venice Immersive Special Jury Prize
  • Venice Immersive Achievement Prize


  • Juried Impact Award (awarded for the first time in 2023)

Independent critics, clubs, and associations also offer collateral awards to festival participants. These award events take place concurrently with the festival, but run independently. 

All films in the Official Venezia 80 Selection and in the parallel sections are eligible for the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Debut Film. This award is given to the director and producer of a debut film, who receive a total of $100,000.

How will the SAG and WGA strikes affect this year’s festival?

The 80th annual fest will still screen some of the most highly anticipated independent and international movies of the year. Most of the 2023 lineup will screen as planned; however, the opening film will now be Edoardo De Angelis’ “Comandante” rather than Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” which stars Zendaya. 

SAG members like Bradley Cooper, whose “Maestro” is in the festival, may not be in attendance, since it would constitute promoting struck work. 

What movies will be screened at the festival?

Priscilla, Poor Things, The Killer

“Priscilla” Courtesy A24/ “Poor Things” Courtesy Searchlight Pictures/ “The Killer” Courtesy Netflix

Here’s the full lineup:


“Comandante” (dir. Edoardo De Angelis)

“The Promised Land” (dir. Nikolaj Arcel)

“DogMan” (dir. Luc Besson) 

“La Bête (The Beast)” (dir. Bertrand Bonello) 

“Hors-Saison (Out of Season)” (dir. Stéphane Brizé) 

“Enea” (dir. Pietro Castellitto) 

“Maestro” (dir. Bradley Cooper)

“Priscilla” (dir. Sofia Coppola)

“Finalmente L’Alba” (dir. Saverio Costanzo)

“Lubo” (dir. Giorgio Diritti) 

“Origin” (dir. Ava DuVernay) 

“The Killer” (dir. David Fincher)

“Memory” (dir. Michel Franco)

“Io Capitano” (dir. Matteo Garrone)

“Evil Does Not Exist” (dir. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)

“The Green Border” (dir. Agnieszka Holland)

“The Theory of Everything” (dir. Timm Kröger)

“Poor Things” (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)

“El Conde” (dir. Pablo Larraín)

“Ferrari” (dir. Michael Mann)

“Adagio” (dir. Stefano Sollima)

“Kobieta z… (Woman Of…)” (dir. Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert)

“Holly” (dir. Fien Troch)

Out of Competition (Narrative Features)

“Society of the Snow” (dir. J.A. Bayona)

“Coup de Chance” (dir. Woody Allen)

“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” (dir. Wes Anderson)

“The Penitent” (dir. Luca Barbareschi)

“L’Ordine Del Tempo” (dir. Liliana Cavani)

“Vivants” (dir. Alix Delaporte)

“Welcome to Paradise” (dir. Leonardo di Constanzo)

“Daaaaaali!” (dir. Quentin Dupieux)

“The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” (dir. William Friedkin)

“Making of” (dir. Cedric Kahn)

“Aggro Dr1ft” (dir. Harmony Korine)

“Hit Man” (dir. Richard Linklater)

“The Palace” (dir. Roman Polanski)

Out of Competition (Special Screening)

“La Parte Del Leone: Una Storia Della Mostra” (dir. Baptiste Etchegaray and Giuseppe Bucchi)

Out of Competition (Series)

“D’Argent et de Sang,” Episodes 1–12 (dir. Xavier Giannoli and Fredéric Planchon)

“I Know Your Soul,” Episodes 1–2 (created by Jasmine Zbanic and Damir Ibrahimovic; dir. Alen Drjević and Nermin Hamzagic)

Out of Competition (Documentaries)

“Amor” (dir. Virginia Eleuteri Serpieri)

“Frente a Guernica” Directors’ Cut (dir. Yervant Gianikian, Angela Ricci Lucchi)

“Hollywoodgate” (dir. Ibrahim Nash’at)

“Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus” (dir. Neo Sora)

“Enzo Jannacci Vengo Anch’io” (dir. Giorgio Verdelli)

“Menus Plaisirs – Les Troisgros” (dir. Frederick Wiseman)

Orizzonti (Horizons) Feature Competition

“A Cielo Abierto” (dirs. Mariana Arriaga and Santiago Arriaga)

“El Paraiso” (dir. Enrico Maria Artale)

“Behind the Mountains” (dir. Mohamed Ben Attia)

“The Red Suitcase” (dir. Fidel Devkota) 

“Tatami” (dir. Guy Nattiv and Zar Amir Ebrahimi)

“Paradise Is Burning” (dir. Mika Gustafson)

“The Featherweight” (dir. Robert Kolodny)

“Invelle” (dir. Simone Massi) 

“Hesitation Wound” (dir. Selman Nacar) 

“Heartless” (dir. Nara Normande, Tião) 

“Una Sterminata Domenica” (dir. Alain Parroni) 

“City of Wind” (dir. Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir)

“Explanation for Everything” (dir. Gábor Reisz) 

“Gasoline Rainbow” (dir. Bill and Turner Ross)

“En Attendant La Nuit” (dir. Celine Rouzet)

“Housekeeping for Beginners” (dir. Goran Stolevski)

“Shadow of Fire” (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto)

“Dormitory” (dir. Nehir Tuna)

Horizons Extra

“Bota Jonë” (dir. Luàna Barjami)

“Forever Forever” (dir. Anna Buryachkova) 

“The Rescue” (dir. Daniela Goggi)

“In the Land of Saints and Sinners” (dir. Robert Lorenz)

“Day of the Fight” (dir. Jack Huston)

“Felicità” (dir. Micaela Ramazzotti)

“Pet Shop Boys” (dir. Olmo Schnabel)

“Stolen” (dir. Karan Tejpal)

“L’Homme d’Argile” (dir. Anaïs Tellene)

How often have films with Venice premieres gone on to earn other accolades?

Many of the films screened at past festivals have been recognized at the Oscars, including “Gravity,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight,” “La La Land,” “The Shape of Water,” “Roma,” “Joker,” “Nomadland,” and “The Whale.”

The Golden Lion, Venice’s top award, has itself become a predictor of success during awards season. In 2019, the Hollywood box office smash “Joker” won the Golden Lion before going on to win two 2020 Oscars, including best actor, plus nominations for best picture and director. In 2018, Alfonso Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical “Roma,” from Netflix, won the Golden Lion and went on to win the directing Oscar—a repeat victory for Cuarón, who has earned numerous Golden Lions, including for the Oscar-winning “Gravity.”

And it doesn’t stop there. The main competition jury for 2018 was headed by Guillermo del Toro, whose film “The Shape of Water” won the Golden Lion in 2017, which won the Academy Award for best picture.

How can I enter a film in the Venice Film Festival?

Fill out the online form. Submissions are done entirely through the Venice International Film Festival’s official website via a pre-selection form or through an invitation. Submissions this year were due June 15 for features, June 1 for shorts, and May 29 for immersive projects. Filmmakers can submit more than one more project, but they cannot resubmit ones from previous years.

Know the rules. Venice follows a simple set of regulations for submissions each year. Films must have been completed recently—generally, not earlier than one year before the festival. Submissions can’t have been presented at a prior Venice edition, even as a work in progress, nor can a submission have already been screened publicly, including at competing and non-competing sections of any international or national film festival. (One exception is interactive works, which can screen in their country of origin prior to the festival). They also can’t have been released on the internet, DVD, Blu-ray, or in any other format. However, private screenings with no press in attendance, including at film markets, are acceptable. The Venice Biennale will consider works in progress as long as the film is completed by the festival delivery date. All movies not in Italian should be subtitled in Italian or English (including English-language films).

Pay the fee. Entering the festival costs 150€ for features and immersive works, and 70€ for short films. An extra 25€ for features and immersives and an extra €10 for short films is required for submissions using the late deadlines.

Upload your film. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email to register and upload your movie on Mnemonica. If you’re submitting an immersive project, you’ll also be invited to register on Nextcloud.

How else can I attend or participate in the festival?

Venice International Film Festival

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As a member of the public: Many of the screenings each year are open to the public. Those marked “Pubblico—tutti gli accrediti” give priority to the public, followed by accredited visitors. Pass holders can access all screenings marked this way even without priority of access. 

Via accreditation: Some of the festival screens exclusively for attendees over the age of 18 who are accredited. These include: 

  • Press
  • Industry
  • Film delegation
  • Cinema (for filmmakers and for students)
  • Promotional cards (for those under 26 or over 60) 

Once acquired, the accreditation is nontransferable and can only be partially refunded in certain circumstances. Additionally, there’s only one accreditation per person. Fees must be paid online.

These visitors can also use their pass to attend screenings at the Sala Grande, the main screening venue. Tickets should be booked the same day as the screening, and if you can’t attend, you’ll need to cancel 30 minutes before the screening or potentially forfeit future tickets at the Sala Grande. The same policy applies to immersive tickets. Opening and closing ceremonies are by invitation only.

You can buy tickets to the festival here.

Check out Backstage’s film audition listings!