Venice Film Festival Opens With Catherine Deneuve, Volodymyr Zelenskyy Video Message And Tepid Reaction To ‘White Noise’

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UPDATED with reaction to film: The 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival kicked off Wednesday night with an emotional opening ceremony celebrating 90 years of the world’s oldest film festival, which launched in 1932.

The evening at the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema included Catherine Deneuve receiving the festival’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, followed by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivering a video message much like he did at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

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Zelenskyy referenced cinema during his taped subtitled message, calling Russia’s invasion of his country “a horror which is not 120 minutes long, but 189 days of war going on in Ukraine.” He said Russia’s “lowbrow plot in three scenes” was to nudge the world to make three dramatic mistakes including getting used to the war, forgetting the war and turning their backs on the war.

“This design of theirs should never turn into reality,” he said. Speaking directly to the audience, he added: “Cultural figures, film directors, producers, actors … from one and the same family, your stance is important. Your voice matters. Your word is strong. He added that the least they could do “is to not remain silent.”

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Afterward, the festival jury headed by Julianne Moore was introduced, leading into the world premiere screening of Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, which Deadline’s Pete Hammond called a “wickedly smart comedy for dark times” in his opening-night review of the film (read the review here). This evening, it was greeted with a standing ovation of about 2½ minutes.

. - Credit: Getty Images
. - Credit: Getty Images

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Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle lead the cast of the Netflix film, which will later open the New York Film Festival, will get a monthlong run in theaters beginning November 25, will hit the streamer on December 30.

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Deneuve, after meeting the press earlier in the day, accepted her Golden Lion as a highlight of her Venice career that began with her first appearance at the festival with 1967’s Belle de Jour. She recalled several of her visits to the Lido, and mused on the lifetime honor considering she just completed shooting a movie a few weeks ago and has already started a new one.

Mike Fleming Jr. contributed to this report.

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