(Reuters) - The 67th Venice International Film Festival, the world’s oldest, opens on Wednesday with Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller “Black Swan.” The annual event closes on September 11.
Here are some details about the nearly 80 year-old festival:
-- The first “Esposizione d‘Arte Cinematografica” came into being in 1932. The very first film to be shown was Rouben Mamoulian’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” screened in August 1932.
-- As there were no official awards, an audience poll was taken -- best director was Soviet Nikolai Ekk for “Putyovka v Zhizn,” while the best film was Rene Clair’s “A nous la liberte.”
-- The second festival, held in August 1934, included the first competition. Nineteen countries took part with over 300 accredited journalists. The “Coppa Mussolini” was introduced for best foreign film and best Italian film.
-- In 1936 an international jury was nominated for the first time and in 1937 the new Palazzo del Cinema was inaugurated. With the exception of the years 1940 to 1948, it has hosted the Festival ever since.
-- The Festival was held three times during World War Two, from 1940 to 1942, but not counted in the total number of festivals. Participation was limited. A short festival was held in 1946.
-- The 1947 Festival was held at the Ducal Palace, with a record audience of 90,000. It saw the return of the Soviet Union and the new “popular democracies” including Czechoslovakia, which won first prize for Sirena by Karel Stekly.
-- During the 50s, the Festival experienced a period of international expansion, with the affirmation of new types of film including Japanese and Indian.
-- Japanese cinema has become well known in the West largely thanks to the Golden Lion awarded to Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” in 1951, and successively through the Silver Lions won by “Ugetsu Monogatari” (1953) and “Sansho Dayu” (1954) by Kenji Mizoguchi.
-- Hard-hitting Israeli war movie “Lebanon” won the Golden Lion for best picture at the 2009 Venice film festival. Director Samuel Maoz shot almost the entire drama, featuring graphic and disturbing scenes of violence, from inside a tank to communicate the claustrophobia and fear he experienced as a young Israeli conscript during the 1982 war.
-- Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat scooped the Silver Lion for best director for “Women Without Men,” which chronicles the lives of four women from different walks of life against the backdrop of Iran’s foreign-backed coup in 1953.
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit