In 1932, well before any other country in the world, Italy invented the very concept of film festival in Venezia, later incorporated by the larger Biennale organization. That festival is still alive and kicking, and remains the most illustrious event about art cinema globally.
It is actually composed of several different competitions: the larger Premieres awards; the Horizons awards for innovation in film making; a Classics selection of restored movies and documentaries about cinema; the Fuori Concorso selection of especially topical, cultural (and blockbuster) movies; a Critics’ choicesselection; and one last selection independently managed by an authors association.
On the whole, the festival counts over 130 different movies each year shown in about 15 different locations. This requires careful planning if you want to attend, as the already crowded and chaotic city becomes even more difficult to navigate (literally) during the event. This is composited by the complex ticketing system, as some shows are by invitation only, others are free – but with very long queues – and others yet use a tiered pricing depending on the time and location of the show.
The best way to approach the festival is to book online or buy an abbonamento, a personal card granting allowing access to a reserved, numbered seat. The only problem for this? The prices (a 7.30 pm numbered seat card in the best cinema goes for €1,600) and the advance booking – experts suggest to book at least two years early to have a chance to find a place. Same goes for hotels – with many people choosing to commute from other cities to save – restaurants and the such.