Hollywood strike forces Venice Film Festival to switch opening screening

The Italian festival will run from August 30 until September 9

Challengers, starring Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor, will no longer open the Venice Film Festival. Photo: Metro Goldwyn Mayer
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The Venice Film Festival has switched its opening selection after the movie that had been scheduled pulled out because of the ongoing strikes in Hollywood, organisers said.

Edoardo De Angelis' Comandante will now open the 80th Venice Film Festival, in place of Luca Guadagnino's Challengers, the festival's organisers said on Friday.

Challengers, starring US actress Zendaya, "will not participate at the festival following a decision made by the production" owing to ongoing industrial action in Hollywood, it said.

Comandante will have its world premiere on August 30 in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema on the island of Lido di Venezia during the opening ceremony.

The change comes two weeks after actors joined writers on strike, triggering the first industry-wide walkout in 63 years, effectively shutting down Hollywood.

Sag-Aftra (the Screen Actors Guild) went on strike after negotiations to reach a new deal with production studios ended without an agreement.

The union's demands have focused on dwindling pay in the streaming era, as well as the threat to the industry posed by artificial intelligence.

Based on a true story, Comandante depicts the rescue of 26 shipwrecked Belgians during the Second World War by a submarine skipper played by Pierfrancesco Favino.

De Angelis, 44, was behind 2016 film Indivisibili and the TV drama series The Lying Life of Adults.

The Venice festival will end on September 9 with the screening of La sociedad de la nieve ("Society of the Snow") by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, organisers said.

Updated: July 23, 2023, 6:44 AM