The Venice Film Festival has been robbed of its usual glitz due to ongoing Hollywood strikes.
The world´s longest-running film festival was due to start with “Challengers”, a tennis romance with one of the biggest stars of her generation, Zendaya.
But it was replaced at the last minute by an Italian war drama, “Comandante”, due to the ongoing strikes by Hollywood actors and writers — primarily over pay and the threat of AI — that has barred them from publicity work.
The rest of the line-up was largely unaffected: the festival will see Emma Stone as a Frankenstein-like creature in “Poor Things” and Bradley Cooper as legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein in “Maestro”, among several Oscar contenders.
But the strikes mean those stars will not be lighting up the red carpet.
Adam Driver has been given an exemption to show up for “Ferrari” on Thursday because the biopic by Michael Mann (“Heat”) was made outside the studio system.
Jessica Chastain is also expected for the premiere of “Memory” at the end of the festival, according to Variety. It is her first outing since her Oscar-winning turn in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”.
All are competing for the top prize Golden Lion, to be awarded on September 9 by a jury led by Damien Chazelle, director of “La La Land”.
He told AFP he understood the anxiety around AI — which many fear could lead to computer-generated actors and scripts replacing humans — but said some of the fears may be overblown.
“People have some apocalyptic ideas about it,” said Chazelle a few hours before the festival opening.
“I agree it´s a major technological change like the internet or radio, and it will overturn a lot of things, but the art will survive.”
Other attention-grabbing entries include Sofia Coppola´s “Priscilla”, about Elvis Presley´s wife, and “The Killer” by David Fincher, who returns to the Lido two decades after “Fight Club” was famously booed at the festival only to become a cult hit later.