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Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament

Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament
Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament
Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament
Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament
Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament
Venice opens "miraculous" film festival, but veterans lament
Posted at 3:01 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 17:03:56-04

VENICE (AP) — The Venice Film Festival has opened under a slew of COVID-protection protocols, with the few A-list celebrities making the trip wearing face masks and the general public largely absent from the premises.

Paparazzi who in past years rented boats to chase stars as they crossed the lagoon to the Lido filmed the opening arrivals from special, socially distant spots along the red carpet.

Italy Venice Film Festival 2020 Opening Red Carpet
Actress Tilda Swinton holds a carnival mask as she poses for photographers upon arrival at the opening ceremony of the 77th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Masked guards took temperatures at nearly every turn, and no jostling, crowding or cramming was allowed.

The red carpet has a three-meter-high (ten-foot) wall blocking the public’s view.

Italy Venice Film Festival 2020 Jury Photo Call
Jury president Cate Blanchett poses for photographers at the jury photo call during the 77th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (Gian Mattia D'Alberto/Lapresse via AP)

Veteran film-goers walk away dejected after being told they had to reserve seats online, well in advance. In addition, seating is limited to ensure at least every two or three seats are vacant, meaning some films have already sold out.

Cate Blanchett, Matt Dillon
Jury President Cate Blanchett, left, and jury member Matt Dillon, right, talk to each other as they wait for the start of the opening ceremony of the 77th edition of the Venice Film Festival at the Venice Lido, Italy, Wednesday, Sep. 2, 2020. The Venice Film Festival will go from Sept. 2 through Sept. 12. Italy was among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and the festival will serve as a celebration of its re-opening and a sign that the film world, largely on pause since March, is coming back as well. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

It’s all part of the measures imposed by Venice organizers to try to safely host the first major in-person festival of the COVID-19 era when others canceled or went online.

That the festival is happening at all is significant, given Italy was the first country in the West to be hit hard by the virus.

Luigi Lo Cascio, Linda Caridi, Laura Morante, Daniele Luchetti, Adriano Giannini
From right, actors Luigi Lo Cascio, Linda Caridi and Laura Morante with director Daniele Luchetti and actor Adriano Giannini pose during the photo call for the movie Lacci opening the 77th edition of the Venice Film Festival at the Venice Lido, Italy, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2020. The Venice Film Festival will go from Sept. 2 through Sept. 12. Italy was among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and the festival will serve as a celebration of its re-opening and a sign that the film world, largely on pause since March, is coming back as well. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

But Italy also largely brought infections under control with a rigid lockdown and continued vigilance — measures that festival organizers have embraced and enhanced.