The longest-running film festival in Europe is the Venice Film Festival. It’s one of the “Big Three” European film festivals along with the Berlin International Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, which is internationally renowned for allowing artists the freedom to express themselves creatively.
Beginning in August of 1932, as a component of the Venice Biennale (a famous art exhibition), the Venice Film Festival has become the most widely-recognised of all the events in the Biennale. Every year, the festival begins a the end of August on an island called Lido in the middle of the Venice Lagoon.
The addition of the festival to the already popularly Venice Biennale exhibitions came about when the Italian population was becoming increasingly interested in film. American cultural films dominated the industry in Italia, encouraging the Italian government to honour their own culture through the film industry. Three prominent Italians, Luciano de Feo, Guiseppe Volpi, and Antonio Maraini created the Venice International Film Festival in 1932. They held the first screening at the Excelsior Palace Hotel. Interestingly enough, the first screening was the American classic film, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Following the success of the first festival, it was declared to be an annual event.
The festival experienced some difficult times in the 1940s due to political turmoil and wartime propaganda. The early 1940s also saw the festival renamed to be the Italian-German Film Festival until 1942 when the festival was suspended due to wartime activities. Following the conclusion of the war in 1946, the festival resumed the original events. It was restored to its iconic status in the global film industry.
Social and political turmoil in the 1960s and 1970s also influenced the festival, and the Venice Bienniale as a whole, and for many years were skipped due to unrest. Currently, the festival is at peak glory and is planning for the 77th event to be held in early September this year.