A Day at the Venice Film Festival – A Netflix Production

Starring: you, sunglasses, phone, phone charger (if lucky)


In a galaxy far far away there was summer. As that summer drifts into the past and professors take the place of gelato sellers handing out not ice cones but case studies, let’s relive a sunny day at the Lido, Venice. A gelato in your hands and tan on your skin.

The Arrival

Take the boat, the vaporetto. The venetian coast from afar seems a day-old sandcastle, imperceptibly crumbling into the sea. The Festival’s a child who takes a handful of it and builds something new, young and exciting.

Morning or The Day After

Wake up. It’s 5.30 a.m. You are no member of the “5 am Club”, there is no time to journal and manifest your capitalistic dreams of productivity and prosperity. Hope to be able to login into the online ticket office and pray for decent seats.

All big Hollywood films are gone, the tickets for them are snatched from you. Only Japanese, French, Portuguese, Kazakh titles available. It’s okay. You are sophisticated. You are a multi-faceted cinephile. No need to see the world preview of the next Oscar-worthy, jaw-dropping blockbuster. You. Are. Better.

Exit from the venue after two hours and a half, more energetic than ever: it was a good film. Browse in mental satisfaction the street for a café. Enter. Una brioche e un cappuccino, per favore. You deserve some bodily satisfaction too. Your friend comes in unaware that you will blow off their ears with how amazing the cast was, the screenplay, the cinematography. Do not check online reviews. The internet will have valid counterarguments to destroy your favorite-film-as-of-now. Moreover, you have another one to watch.

Midday or The Tummy Rumble

It’s lunchtime. Except there is no lunch as your 1 p.m. seats state coldly and cruelly. Cinema is food for the mind. Beside, the body had a brioche earlier. What more does it want?

Afternoon or La Rosa de Cruz

Had an impromptu sandwich at a food stand. Now you are on a mission: inside the Palazzo del Casinò Penelope Cruz is finishing up a press conference for “L’Immensità” (today in theaters). Avoid the red carpet (you’ll be back, don’t worry darling) and head straight to the Artists’ Exit.

It is a fine time waiting for movie stars under the sun. You get to chat up with interesting people. Get to know a Roman reporter working for the biggest Austrian TV channel. You’ll become best pals and he will give you other celebrities’ timetables and events. And then she comes.

A Spanish flower, whose talent has bewitched you ever since “Vicky Christina Barcelona”. Her petals are… well, they are bodyguards. Bulky men secluding her. Yet she sees you under her fashionable sunglasses. Un autografo, per favore – you timidly mutter. She signs. She is on a motorboat now. She smiles, she waves. The waves: she’s gone.

It takes time for you to look down at your notebook and see her name scribbled expeditiously yet elegantly. It looks like a rose, an ink-black rose.

Evening or The Carpet

The sun is slowly setting, turning its ruby skies in infinite shades of purple. The ever-red carpet is getting crowded with cameras, photographers and semi-celebrities, i.e. influencers. It’s all very silly – one may say to you. Weren’t you the one: I go for the Art not the Glamour , Cinema is about big stories not big names, I came here for the art form not Timothée’s bareback suit etc. You may argue that as the actors will catwalk, can someone not see that they are moving pictures, pieces of a masterwork?
If the David stepped down from its pedestal and go for a walk, you’d follow.

In the meantime, check if there are tickets for the première of “Blonde” (out the 28th of Sept. on Netflix).
None. Sigh.
A few. Buy.
Transaction denied.

Night or Ana’s Boyfriend

It is time. You packed the best clothes for this and they are securely folded in your room, in your luggage. Your smart morning clothes will do. The première is a surreal event. It is the film’s first steps into the world and the last stage of production, where even you as spectator can be part of something glistening, greater.

The red carpet takes long to begin and half a second to end. Brad Pitt (producer), Adrien Brody (supporting actor) and Ana de Armas (lead) waltz briskly to their assigned seats. And then, the Netflix tuh-tuhm begins the cinematic symphony. The film is a chaotic reflection on beauty and its distortions; truth, fiction as in art and so in life; all is enclosed in a tragic portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

14 minutes of applause: the longest standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival

the news will say. And you are part of it. Your sore hands are contributing to that roaring applause. And you smile, a silly euphoric smile. Your friend desperately calls you on the phone, screams at you to get closer, closer to the cast. You don’t. You are transfixed, smiling and clapping at Art.

Exit from Sala Grande: Ana de Armas is in front of you. Okay, keep cool. Rummage through your tote bag. Where is the notebook. Where is the pen. She moves away. Found them. Ask her assistant: Can Miss Armas… A shadow covers the sun. A tall, broad, handsome shadow of a boyfriend, Ana’s. I will wait for you in the car – says she. I’m tired – says he. What about me? – I say.
A tired, caring smile of a wonderful actress to her boyfriend will put you to sleep tonight.

The Departure

In Italy we have an expression: isola felice, i.e. happy island. It’s an ideal place where people exchange projects, goals; and dreams really do come true. As the vaporetto ships away to the continent one realizes that the Lido really is an isola felice on which humanity briefly meets with open-mindedness and friendliness because passion guides every moment of it. Passion for art, pleasure and beauty. Passion for people and their stories.

No man is an island, but it would be nice if he could be a small grain of sand on an happy island.

(skip closing credits)

Federico Erminio Spadaro