The writers and actors strikes in Hollywood were always going to play a major part in the 2023 Venice Film Festival — the biggest film event since they started and where numerous big name stars with films in the lineup won’t be attending in accordance with strike rules. But few would have anticipated them showing up in the very first question in the first press conference.
At the media meet for the jury heads ahead of the opening night on Wednesday, Damien Chazelle — who chairs the main jury — showed up wearing a t-shirt in support of the WGA strike, as did his fellow jury members Martin McDonagh and Laura Poitras, both sitting in the audience.
Asked about the t-shirt, Chazelle pushed back against the idea that each piece of art is “just a piece of content, which is Hollywood’s favourite word, to be put into a pipeline.” He said that the issue of “art over content” and renumeration were the core issues for him. “People need to be remunerated for each piece of art that is made.”
As for the t-shirt, Chazelle said that there were a “lot of people who would have loved to have been here that are not — it’s a difficult time in Hollywood, especially for working writers, actors and crew,” so he wanted to “find some way to acknowledge that.”
Alongside heading Venice juries for 2023 are French director Alice Diop for the fest’s Luigi De Laurentiis Award for best debut film, and Italy’s Jonas Carpignano for the Horizons section for more cutting-edge works.
Venice kicks off tonight with the world premiere of Italian WWII submarine drama Commandante. Other films in the lineup include Michael Mann’s Ferrari, Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, Luc Besson’s Dogman and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things.