Some critics were giving Venice bad reviews on the second day of this year’s film festival — but it had nothing to do with the quality of the movies.
Long security lines operated by Italian police officers to get into the press screenings of two movies, Netflix’s “The Hand of God” and Focus Features’ “The Card Counter,” meant that some journalists weren’t able to make it inside their seats before the opening credits rolled.
At the 8:30 a.m. showing of Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God” on Thursday morning, the security line was so long, dozens of critics missed the beginning of the movie. Although they were allowed inside, the movie had started playing on time. At least 30 journalists and critics with reserved seats trickled in 10 minutes late.
Studios frown on critics being admitted to movies late, since not seeing the beginning of a movie could affect the quality of the reviews.
The 8:30 a.m. screening of “The Card Counter” was even more clogged. A reporter estimated to Variety that 40 to 50 people didn’t get inside due to security checkpoints.
“The line was moving at a glacial pace because the Italian police were operating it versus festival security, so they were being incredibly thorough to the point of ridiculousness,” said the journalist.
Time magazine’s film critic Stephanie Zacharek tweeted about not getting into “The Card Counter,” adding that in the future she’d be “skipping breakfast” to arrive extra early to future screenings.
Yes! Didn’t get into the 8:30 CARD COUNTER screening because even though we got to the checkpoint with plenty of time to spare, we here held up there for 30 minutes. Future morning screenings mean skipping breakfast, I guess. Makes for a long day. #Venezia78 https://t.co/eqayvmQxav
— Stephanie Zacharek (@szacharek) September 2, 2021
By the afternoon, the security lines were moving much swifter, as people who didn’t get into the earlier showing of “The Card Counter” were able to see it a few hours later.
Security at Venice is usually more laidback.
This year, with Covid-19 protocols in place, only half the seats are reserved inside screenings room to allow for social distancing. Tickets are reserved through an online system, which is why people have been arriving shortly before the film’s start time.
A representative from Venice didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.