Venice: New Academy CEO Kicks Off Fall Festival Tour: Our Future “Is With International Cinema”

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Bill Kramer, the newly-minted CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, kicked off what will be a world tour of the 2022 fall film festivals in Venice on Tuesday, as the Academy tries to cater to its increasingly international membership.

Kramer took part in a panel on “the values of cinema in global society” together with Venice Film Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera and Nicola Maccanico, CEO of Italian studio giant Cinecittà on the eve of the Venice festival’s 90th anniversary.

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Kramer’s tour, which from Venice will take him to Telluride, Toronto and London, is also a show of Oscar support for the film festival circuit, which were hard hit by the COVID pandemic. “I think there were many of us that thought: will festivals ever be in-person festivals again?” Kramer noted, “[but] I think we’ve come out the other side and we’ve seen now how critically important in-person festivals are for the health of our cinema ecosystem.”

Noting that 25 percent of Academy members are now based outside the United States, Kramer said the future of the Academy, and the Oscars, “is with international cinema as well as national cinema.”

The 2020 best picture win for Bong Joon-ho’s Korean drama Parasite, “really changed people’s perspective of the Oscars,” Kramer said, noting that much of the conversation in the past awards season was around international titles including Drive My Car (Japan), The Worst Person in the World (Norway) and Parallel Mothers (Spain).

Calling Venice “the start of the award season,” Kramer noted how the festival has been a bellwether for the Oscars, with such best picture winners as Nomadland, The Shape of Water, Spotlight and Birdman first premiering on the Lido.

In a nod to Venice’s embrace of films from Netflix and other streamers — there are four Netflix films in Venice competition this year — Kramer said that while the Academy will “never” drop its requirement for a theatrical qualifying run for the Oscars, the increasing synergy between the streamers, the festivals and the Oscars “is a good thing.”

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