Venice Film Festival sets 2020 plan

Romanian actress Madalina Ghenea wore Zuhair Murad at the premiere of 'Ad Astra' during the 76th Venice International Film Festival. (AFP)
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Updated 08 July 2020

Venice Film Festival sets 2020 plan

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for its 77th installment, which will include a slightly reduced number of films in the main competition as well as some outdoor and virtual screenings. If the schedule stays intact, it will be the first major film festival since COVID-19 essentially shut down the industry in mid-March.
Festival director Alberto Barbera said in a statement that he is “extremely pleased that the Biennale Cinema can be held with a minimum reduction of films and sections” and that “a significant number of directors and actors will accompany films to the Lido.”
There will still be 50 to 55 films in the official selection, which will be announced on July 28, and screenings will take place in the traditional venues as well as two outdoor arenas (at the Giardini della Biennale and a skating rink on the Lido) with adopted safety measures established by authorities.
The festival will take its Virtual Reality section online and this year forego its Sconfini section, which hosts smaller films and genre fare, to accommodate more socially distanced screenings of the major films in competition. Actress Cate Blanchett is presiding over the main competition jury.
Travel to Italy, an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, is allowed from European countries. The European Union last week said it would reopen its border to 14 nations, but most Americans have been refused entry due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S. Press from countries with travel restrictions will be able to view press conferences virtually, Barbera said.
“Without forgetting the countless victims of these past few months to whom due tribute shall be paid, the first international festival following the forced interruption dictated by the pandemic becomes the meaningful celebration of the re-opening we all looked forward to, and a message of concrete optimism for the entire world of cinema which has suffered greatly from this crisis,” Barbera said.
The Toronto International Film Festival, which is typically held on the heels of Venice in September, has already announced plans for a smaller 2020 version, with fewer films and virtual red carpets. Both festivals serve as major launching grounds for awards hopefuls, although no one know how exactly it will work now that runway to the Oscars has been extended by two months.
The Venice Film Festival runs from Sept. 2-12.


Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim undergoes 6-hour surgery after Beirut explosion 

Updated 05 August 2020

Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim undergoes 6-hour surgery after Beirut explosion 

DUBAI: Lebanese actress Nadine Nassib Njeim revealed on Instagram that she underwent a six-hour surgery after a massive explosion ripped through Beirut on Tuesday, killing over 100 people and injuring thousands. 

“Half my face and my body were covered in blood,” said Njeim, who lives close to the port area where the explosion happened, captioning a video – shot by someone else – of her damaged apartment.

“I thank God first, who saved my life. The explosion was close, and the scenes you see do not do it justice. If you visit the house and see the blood everywhere, you would be surprised as to how we are still alive,” the star, who has two children, wrote captioning the clip that shows shattered glass, cracked walls and broken furniture strewn all over her living room.

According to her post, the star went down 22 floors, barefoot and covered in blood and sought help from a man who was in his car. 

“He dropped me to the nearest hospital, but they refused to admit me because they were packed with wounded people,” she said. “He dropped me to another hospital where they immediately took me in and I underwent a six-hour operation.” 

The 36-year-old actress said her children were not home and are “fine and safe.”

Multiple Lebanese celebrities have also taken to social media to share videos of their destroyed homes. 

Singer Haifa Wehbe shared, on her Instagram Stories, clips of the destruction that ravaged her home. “We are all okay thank God. My house is next to the explosion,” she wrote to her followers before asking them to keep her house helper, who got injured in her head and eyes, in their prayers.

Clips circulated on social media of Lebanese fashion designer Dalida Ayach, who is also the wife of singer Ramy Ayach, in the hospital being treated for her injuries. 

Singer Elissa, who recently released a new album, took to Twitter to share pictures of the aftermath of the explosion. “It affected the metals and the properties this time, but who will bring back the dead? Who will bring back Beirut?” the star wrote.

Singer Ragheb Alama’s house also got destroyed, but luckily, he and his family were on a trip outside the city.

The ateliers of renowned Lebanese designers have also been ruined, including Maison Rabih Kayrouz and Ralph Masri’s flagship stores.

Taking to his Stories, Kayrouz shared videos of the damage caused by the explosion to his atelier. “Our courageous team trying to save… what could be saved!” the designer captioned one clip of one of the atelier workers pulling out clothing from the debris.