Damien Chazelle on Strikes at Venice Film Festival: Art Over Content



Venice Film Festival international jury president Damien Chazelle showed support for the ongoing strikes in Hollywood at the event’s first press conference, sporting a “Writers Guild on Strike” shirt and pin.

During the jury press conference — which also included artistic director Alberto Barbera, La Biennale president Roberto Cicutto, Orizzonti president Jonas Carpignano and Luigi De Laurentiis president Alice Diop — Chazelle made a powerful statement about the current state of Hollywood, touting “art over content.”

“Today is the 121st day that the writers in Hollywood have been on strike; the 48th day that the actors have been on strike,” Chazelle began. “I think there’s a basic idea that each work of art has value onto itself, that it’s not just a piece of content — to use Hollywood’s favorite word right now — to be put into a pipeline. And that idea is very basic, I think, to art and how art is made and how art can be made sustainable to the people who make it has been eroded quite a bit, in the past 10 years.”

The “La La Land” director continued, “There’s many issues on the table with the strikes, but to me, that’s the core issue. That’s where the debate about residuals and things like that comes from. It really comes down to that idea of people being remunerated for each piece of art that is made, and can we find a way to maintain and get back that idea — art over content. I think we’re just here to acknowledge that that struggle is going on, and as a result a lot of people who otherwise would have loved to be here during this festival are not able to be here. It’s a difficult time, obviously, in Hollywood, especially for working writers, actors, but also crew. Everyone is affected by the state of the world right now. So I just wanted to find some way to acknowledge that while we’re here celebrating the art of cinema.”

The strikes have greatly impacted the talent that is able to attend the festival, even leading to Luca Guadagnino’s Zendaya-starring “Challengers” pulling out as the event’s opening film. High-profile stars like Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”) and Emma Stone (“Poor Things”) will also not be in attendance. However, films that have already secured distribution through traditional formats (not via streamers) and independent movies are allowed to promote at the fest. This means Adam Driver (“Ferrari”), the cast of Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” and others will still be walking the red carpet. However, Barbera said that Penélope Cruz (“Ferrari”) can no longer attend due to personal reasons.

“The impact of the actors strike will be felt because some very important actors will be missing, but it’s not as bad as it seemed as first,” Barbera said. “During the first few days we rly risked losing the American component of the festival but they will be here.”


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