Damien Chazelle Defends ‘Art Over Content’ as Venice Jury Supports Strikes
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film Damien Chazelle Defends ‘Art Over Content’ as Venice Jury Supports Strikes

Damien Chazelle Defends ‘Art Over Content’ as Venice Jury Supports Strikes

Damien Chazelle Defends ‘Art Over Content’ as Venice Jury Supports Strikes

Venice Film Festival jury president Damien Chazelle showed up to the Palazzo del Casino Wednesday morning for the opening press conference wearing a Writers Guild on Strike T-shirt. So were his jurors Laura Poitras and Martin McDonagh. Fellow deliberators Jane Campion and Mia Hansen-Løve did not brandish their support through fashion, but the stance of solidarity with the ongoing double union strike from across the entire jury was felt.

Chazelle was joined on the dais by Venice Film Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera, La Biennale president Roberto Cicutto, Orizzonti president Jonas Carpignano, and Luigi De Laurentiis president Alice Diop. The Oscar-winning filmmaker, whose “La La Land” and “First Man” have both opened the Biennale in years past, used the opening remarks to send a strong message about the strikes and how art should ultimately trump content — something, he argued, Hollywood seems to be forgetting.

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“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 said. “There’s a basic idea that each work of art has value unto itself, that it’s not just a piece of content — to use Hollywood’s favorite word right now — to be put into a pipeline. 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 festival is down many of its on-screen talent this year due to the strikes, so many were expecting a weaker festival. However, SAG interim agreements have enabled the likes of Adam Driver (“Ferrari”), Jessica Chastain (“Memory”), Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny (“Priscilla”), Caleb Landry Jones (“DogMan”), Mads Mikkelsen (“The Promised Land”), and more names to come out to the Lido to support their films. We won’t, however, see Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”) or Emma Stone (“Poor Things”) this year, among others.

Chazelle 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. I just wanted to find some way to acknowledge that while we’re here celebrating the art of cinema.”

Festival head Barbera reaffirmed that Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers” — which was meant to be the opener — was the only film that withdrew due to the strikes. The festival will open on Wednesday night with “Comandante” instead.

When asked his thoughts on the festival and city of Venice as a venue for introducing new cinema to the world, Chazelle said, “There is something about Venice that lends itself obviously to … the idea of films as a kind of dream state. It feels like a city that’s not quite real. And yet, of course, it is real and that sort of intangible quality of the city, I think is, I don’t know, maybe makes it particularly suitable for a celebration of cinema. Maybe that’s why it is the oldest, longest-running festival in the world, I think the best festival in the world. I’ve been. I think just lucky to have been invited here. And I remember my first time here, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. And again, the surrealness of it, the fact that you take a boat to a screening — it’s silly, there’s just this kind of unreality to it that whatever kind of cinema is being celebrated, whether it’s the most fantastical or the most naturalistic, at the end of the day, cinema is some kind of waking dream and that to me is Venice.”

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