After 37 years from the launch of the International Art Exhibition, in 1932 the Biennale presented the first film festival ever to be held in the world: the International Film Festival. Better known as the Film Festival, Film Festival, or Biennale del Cinema.
The aim is to make international cinema known and spread in all its forms, organizing retrospectives and tributes to important personalities. A different way to experience the Lido of Venice, an island not only of sea and beaches but also of culture.
It was in 1932 that the first edition of the Mostra del Cinema (International Film Art Exhibition) was inaugurated from 6 to 21 August at the Hotel Excelsior; no awards were foreseen for the winning films and the choice was made by the public. It was born as a biennial event and then, within a few years, to be realized every year.
On 10 August 1937 the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido of Venice was opened to the public, built in record time in the place where the Austrian fort Quattro Fontane was present. His strongly fascist style garnered many positive opinions and some criticisms and Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone were present at its inauguration. The first film screened inside was The Great Illusion by Jean Renoir. The Palace underwent an expansion in 1952, after it was used by the Allies as an office and storage area.
During the Second World War, the activities of the Biennale stopped and the Film Festival resumed in 1946.
In 1949 the Arena al Lido was renovated and enlarged and the Leone di San Marco prize, later called the Leone d'oro, was introduced. The first film that received this award was Henri-Georges Clouzot's Manon.
There was a decisive turning point in 1956 in the choice of films in competition at the International Film Art Exhibition: the participating countries are no longer proposing their best films but the management passes to a specific artistic selection.
In 1968 a period of student protests started and from the following year until 1980 no prizes would be awarded at the Film Festival.
From 2 to 8 March 2001 an interesting interdisciplinary project was carried out involving all sectors of the Biennale called the Shakespeare & Shakespeare festival, as a tribute to the Shakespearean work. The exhibition introduces a novelty: the double competition and the further prize called the Lion of the Year which joins the traditional Golden Lion.
In February 2002 an international project was proposed that also reached Brussels and Paris: the Temps d'images festival oriented towards the relationship between live entertainment, new forms of creativity and television and cinema media.
Among the awarded films, we would like to mention, in a non-exhaustive way: Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948 International Grand Prix), Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (brings Japanese cinema to the West in 1951), I vitelloni and Federico Fellini's La strada (both Lions of Silver 1953 - 1954), Satyait Ray's Aparajito (makes Indian cinema known in Europe 1957), Roberto Rossellini's General Della Rovere, (1959), Michelangelo Antonioni's The Red Desert (1964), Louis Malle and Gloria's Atlantic City (A summer night) by John Cassavetes (1980), Vera Drake by Mike Leigh (2004).
Among the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement, we mention, in a non-exhaustive way: Charlie Chaplin (1972), Marcello Mastroianni (1982), Gian Maria Volonté (1991), Francis Ford Coppola (1992), Robert de Niro and Steven Spielberg (1993 ), Al Pacino (1994), Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Ennio Morricone, Alberto Sordi and Monica Vitti (1995), Sofia Loren and Warren Beatty (1998), Jerry Lewis (1999), Clint Eastwood (2000) and Eric Rohmer ( 2001), Hayao Miyazaki and Stefania Sandrelli (2005), Tim Burton and Bernardo Bertolucci (2007), John Lasseter and the directors of Disney / Pixar (2009), John Woo (2010), Marco Bellocchio (2011), William Friedkin (2013).