Virgins of Venice


Our first day on the Lido began with a level of apprehension; it was to be the first time in Cannes in a Van history that we’d attempt to screen films publicly on the street for those at the 70th annual Venice Film Festival.

Armed with the Official Selection from the 2012 Van d’Or Independent Film Awards and some newly submitted Italian films – our intention was to sit on the fringe of one of the worlds oldest and most prestigious celebrations of the moving image.

No one to our knowledge has ever done this before; travel a thousand miles through six European countries to provide exposure for independent filmmakers. Maybe for good reason!

Spending an hour or so gearing up for what was ahead – we ensured batteries were charged and hard-drives were working. After relentless checks and some nourishment in the form of fresh bread and tomatoes – our nerves were settled; we started the engine and were on our way.

We met with our local Venetian contact Marina Rizzi, an economics student able to guide us on the streets of the Lido and provide insight into the running of the festival – including busy streets and main attractions. She was to assist us on one of the hardest tasks – finding a parking spot.

As a local resident Marina has spent pretty much every year being part of the festival in some form, whether it’s been working as a steward for one of the screening venues (as have many of her friends) or as a festival tourist, watching movies and their stars as they float in to the back door of elite hotels on the sea front.

Marina’s enthusiasm for our little project was encouraging. We had the feeling that it was something she hadn’t seen before which pointed towards a wider acceptance in the future. The biggest problem of course is Venice’s love of waterways, which doesn’t provide a Ford Transit with a lot of options. We look for the center of activity and try to get as close as we can, but La Biennale is a pedestrian-friendly event which creates problems for our ‘vehicle of dreams’.

After a drive around the Lido close to the main festival site, we found a suitable spot to park on the street, this was our first challenge completed. Our second obstacle was to get all of the kit working including screen and sound ready to present our films.

The feeling of relief began to flow through our veins after we started the screenings. Presenting the festival crowd and general public with a collection of animations, short films and music videos.

It feels as though in Venice, the Van fits differently. La Biennale (the biggest cultural event in Europe) is an inclusive arts festival with free exhibitions and installations. In Cannes however there isn’t as much access for the general public, unless you have accreditation. Of course you still need a lanyard in Venice, but there are a wider variety of things for the public to engage with – this is where we try to fit in.

We screened for several hours in the street gaining a lot of attention from passers-by. It seemed to be naturally accepted by the festival crowd, something we found incredibly positive and reassuring for when we repeat our endeavour.

The Van is parked best in the shadow of larger festivals like Venice – we like to think that somewhere in the darkness we can shed some light on the spirit of independence.


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