Venice jury chief says art must triumph over content in Hollywood

By Crispian Balmer

VENICE (Reuters) – Amid the glitz of the Venice Film Festival, jury president Damien Chazelle said on Wednesday he wanted to draw attention to strikes by Hollywood writers and actors that have brought much of the U.S. entertainment industry to a standstill.


“It is a difficult time obviously in Hollywood for working actors and writers, and also for crews,” Chazelle told reporters as the world’s oldest film festival got underway.

The actors and writers are striking together for the first time in 63 years, demanding curbs on the use of artificial intelligence and higher pay as streaming becomes prevalent.

“There is a basic idea that each work of art has a value unto itself and is not just a piece of content, which is Hollywood’s favourite word right now,” said Chazelle, director of “La La Land” and “Whiplash”.

“It comes down to each person being remunerated for each piece of art that is made, and how to find a way to maintain and get back that idea of art over content.”

The major U.S. entertainment studios have said they are committed to reaching “an equitable agreement” to end the long-running stoppage. Writers have been on strike since May with actors off the job since July.

The strike has shut down both television and movie productions and has prevented actors from promoting big studio movies as well as films made by streamers like Netflix.

However, the festival’s artistic director, Alberto Barbera, said that just three of the 23 films in the main competition – “The Killer”, “Maestro” and “Poor Things” – would be impacted by the strike, with their actors not coming to Venice.

That means the likes of Emma Stone, Michael Fassbender and Bradley Cooper, who both stars in and directs “Maestro”, will not hit the red carpet. However, Barbera said the strike could have had a much bigger impact.

“When the strike was announced, for a few days we really risked losing the U.S. component of the festival, which instead, as you know, came,” he said.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Mark Heinrich)