Venice Film Festival celebrates 80th year as A-listers hit the red carpet

The event has been overshadowed by the ongoing actors’ strike and a smattering of protests

The 80th Venice Film Festival is under way, celebrating films from around the world.

The event has seemingly gone off without a hitch “despite complications arising from the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes”, Backstage reported.

Tony Leung became the “first Chinese actor to win the lifetime achievement award” at the event, Time Out said, and he “became noticeably emotional” when accepting the coveted Golden Lion.

Several films have been lauded so far, including “Hit Man”, “Poor Things” and “Ferrari”. Another which stood out was the biopic “Priscilla”, based on the memoir of Priscilla Presley. The film charts the story of a “child bride, infant sacrifice, bobbysoxer concubine”, said The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, in an “absorbing, intimate portrait”.

However, the event was not without controversy. Spanish actor Gabriel Guevara was “grabbed by Italian authorities” during the festival, said The Hollywood Reporter, as he had an active international warrant for “an alleged sexual assault in France”.

And Woody Allen had a “decidedly mixed reception”, The New York Times stated, following years of the director being accused of sexual abuse by his daughter, an allegation which he has consistently denied. Outside the screening of his latest film, protesters “handed out sheets of paper urging the festival to ‘turn the spotlight off of rapists’”, the newspaper added.

Roman Polanski was absent from the festival, remaining “a fugitive from US justice” for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, The Hollywood Reporter said, but remained a topic of conversation. His film “The Palace” was screened, but widely lambasted. As a result, Polanski’s “name as a filmmaker is in the toilet”, added Jo-Ann Titmarsh in the London Evening Standard.

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Rebekah Evans joined The Week as newsletter editor in 2023 and has written on subjects ranging from Ukraine and Afghanistan to fast fashion and "brotox". She started her career at Reach plc, where she cut her teeth on news, before pivoting into personal finance at the height of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. Social affairs is another of her passions, and she has interviewed people from across the world and from all walks of life. Rebekah completed an NCTJ with the Press Association and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Week magazine, the Press Association and local newspapers.