This last September, I was extremely lucky to be invited to the oldest film festival in the world, Labiennale or as it’s known, the Venice film festival.
It was an incredible special two weeks, of press conferences, films, premieres and exhibits. Over the two weeks I managed to squeeze in as much as I possibly could, and I also wanted to see some of Venice on top. Lets start with how it happened.
LaBiennale was posting a lot on social media about attending the festival if you were a student, I hadn’t really given going a thought before, I thought it was just for people that had the connections, or were working with the films and company’s. But as it goes, students are allowed to apply to attend this festival, and a hundred or so are chosen and invited to come. I applied on a whim in March, and I forgot about it until June/July when I got an email saying “welcome to Venice” (I then proceeded to scream and jump) I was so excited, but then I realized, this meant going solo…
I managed to get a room and en suite with the university of Venice that I’m pretty sure cost £340 for the 11 days. Then my sister and grandma decided to come for the first week of it, so that was pretty amazing and they had a nice apartment also on Giudecca.
Here’s the thing, Giudecca is not the main island of Venice, it’s a five minute boat ride to Marco square, but at night (when leaving premieres at 12am) this was somewhat stressful and resulted in a rather funny run around the boat terminal at 2am in a ball gown. The festival itself is held on an island called the Lido, this is such a lovely little island, and shocker there are cars on it! (not actually sure why, it’s small) anyhoot, the festival has been held at the cinema there since 1932, and is about a 15 minute boat ride from S.Marco (making the journey about 30 minutes with walking) my advice? WAKE UP! re-runs of the films are held at 8am sharp and not everyone with a pass gets in, you have to que from around 7:15am, so figures I barely slept for a long o’l time but it was soooo worth it.
Your pass (which cost’s £30 for 11 days) will allow you into most films and some of the press talks if their is space, but for the larger premieres you have to go online at 12pm every day to secure tickets, don’t worry they are free if you have a pass, it just means that you need to be on it fast. These are the 7pm red carpet films, and you have to try to go to as many as you can it is so wonderful. Through this I saw, The Favorite, A Star is Born, and Driven. I was super cross one day because I lost track of time on the beach and forgot to get First Man tickets, but hey there are worst places to be lost!
Speaking of the beach, the festival is run around the Hotel Excelsior it is a fantastic Hollywood vibe hotel with a gorgeous bar and beach (try the cocktails) this is the place if you want to see some celebrities, in fact I was sitting at the beach bar, reading my book, when a group of teenagers were screaming and running up to this women (I clearly was missing something, I had no idea who she was) and they were despite for photos and stuff. It was really interesting for a film student to witness that, and she looked amazing (everyone did, constantly. Hard to keep up!)
I know this seems a long post, but stick with it if you are interested in going! Here’s a tea break.
Okay, here are just some useful tips I wish I had been told before going. You will most likely spend a lot of time by yourself, queuing for the films, sitting in the films, waiting at the box office, be prepared to que and wait all day by yourself. I also didn’t see a lot of mainland Venice at all because all of my time was going towards watching the films. This I didn’t mind at all (heck I was at a massive press film festival!) I had such a grin on my face opening Facebook and seeing websites like the Hollywood Reporter and Empire post about Venice, it is so exclusive and happy.
This brings me to my next point, it is NOT just films! There was an amazing VR section this year and it was on a really small and cute island. I saw a 1940’s blitz one and it was actually really creepy, but so realistic. There is also a private boat they put you on to get to this island and it’s so old and posh, it was a weird highlight of the trip…damn I love that boat. As well as VR, they had inside Excelsior and in some of the festival buildings, press conferences, photo calls, a VIP bar that I could some how walk into (still not sure how that worked, maybe it was a happy hour but for students lol) and there’s a magical place called ‘film market’ it’s basically what it sounds like, big names discuss deals and films, but anyone can walk around it with pass.
There is also restoration films such as one day I saw a remastered premiere of Some like it hot, and yup this film still holds up after sixty years, it is SO funny.
Yet, the absolute highlight of my trip was a really special night with the Jaeger Lecoultre venice film festival: glory to the filmmaker award night. I just managed to get a ticket to this, and it was such an amazing night. The award went to Director Zhang Yimou and I was lucky enough to see the first viewing of his film Shadow. This night is what cinema was born to do, it was perfect, I was in my element, and everyone looked amazing in the main hall.
So with that information I will leave you with a few stats and links, so you can decide if you ever want to apply to attend this incredible festival.
British Airways: £120 Return
Festival pass: £30
University accommodation: £320
Transport (including airport water bus): £100
Food and other stuff: £300
give or take this trip costs around £550, and I wasn’t eating out much because #glutenfreelife was like hell no, but I did have a few cheeky cocktails at the Campari bar.
I cannot recomend this enough, yes someday’s I was a little lonely and wanted to come home early, but looking back it was the most incredible thing I’ve ever done! I have never traveled solo before but I would do it again. And getting lost in Venice (I mean truly lost) wasn’t so bad at all, I stumbled onto a street, and then another street and finally I found Dior oops!
Basically, go and have fun! I even met Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman!