Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jonathan Demme is a Visionary - Persol Award at 72nd Venice Film Festival

Jonathan Demme
(Venice, Italy) Jonathan Demme won the Academy Award for directing The Silence of the Lambs, which also won Best Picture, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jody Foster) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally).

The next picture Demme directed, Philadelphia, won a Best Actor Oscar for Tom Hanks. Remember Married to the Mob starring Michelle Pfeiffer? Directed by Jonathan Demme. How about Melvin and Howard, that funky movie about Howard Hughes leaving his fortune to a service station owner? Directed by Jonathan Demme. One of my favorite concert movies of all time, Stop Making Sense by the Talking Heads was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Here's a clip of the energetic and prophetic Life During Wartime (This Ain't No Party... This Ain't No Disco... This Ain't No Foolin' Around):

(For those of you who subscribe by email, here's the link:

The latest film Jonathan Demme directed was this year's Ricki and the Flash starring Meryl Streep. But my fondest Demme film is his first feature venture for Roger Corman, as co-writer and producer of Angels Hard as They Come -- a bizarre, silly, surreal biker film co-written and directed by Joe Viola, who was a pal of my ex-husband back in Los Angeles. Back then, those boys had some swashbuckling imagination.

For his impressive body of work, Jonathan Demme will receive the Persol Tribute to Visionary Talent Award on September 3rd on the Lido at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.

Alberto Barbera, Director of the Venice Film Festival, said: "Jonathan Demme is part of that generation of cinephile auteurs who revolutionized Hollywood in the Seventies. ...Colorful, exuberant, straightforward, passionate and intelligent, his cinema moves easily from studio productions to independent, fiction and documentary films, indulging his personal taste for the unexpected, for a shift in tone or genre within each individual film, which has become the original and recognizable hallmark of his style."

Jonathan Demme is totally cool.

The 2015 Venice International Film Festival runs from September 2 to 12, 2015. Click to go to La Biennale.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Gondola is Born in Venice

Gondoliers at Squero di San Trovaso jump into Canal - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) A new gondola was born today in Venice, at the Squero di San Trovaso, which has been in operation since the 1600s; one of the oldest -- and certainly the most famous -- squeri in Venice. The work is done by hand, with a lot of clamoring and banging going on every day except Sundays.

Today, there were lots of Venetian songs being sung; lots of prosecco bottles popping; lots of splashing going on over at the Squero of San Trovaso. It was because a new gondola had just been completed, a cause for great celebration, which included jumping into the canal.

A Gondola is born at the Squero di San Trovaso
It's a wonderful tradition, much alive, still pulsing in the blood of the gondoliers.

In keeping with the lazy, hazy days of Flashback Summer, here is a post from July 30, 2012:

Venice Gondoliers on TV in Singapore

Gondoliers on TV
Bryan Wong is a television star in Singapore, and the host of a Chinese-language Mediacorp program called JOBS AROUND THE WORLD. He travels the globe focusing on unique occupations, and learns them hands-on. The Singapore branch of Kuoni Travel, a global travel company, contacted me after they read my interview with a gondolier named Simone entitled:

Conversations with a Gondolier

 Click the link below to continue reading:

Venice Gondoliers on TV in Singapore

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mary Breaks Sound Barrier Zooming to Heaven - Shatters Venice Heatwave

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
(Venice, Italy) A little after midnight on August 15, 2015, all Heaven broke loose here in Venice. Thunder. Lightning. Hurricane winds. It was fantastic. August 15th is the day that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, ascended to Heaven, according to the Catholic Church. Like a science fiction story, Mary was one day on earth, and then, finished with Her earthly adventures, zoomed straight up to heaven, body and soul. It is one of my favorite holidays, which I have written about in depth several times before.

This year on August 15th, I went out to Torcello, which was founded in the 5th century -- even before Venice. I wanted to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell'Assunta; the church, established in the year 639, is specifically dedicated to Mary's Assumption into heaven. Here in Venice, we have been suffocated by a heatwave for too many weeks, which, thankfully, broke during the storms on August 15th, so the long journey to Torcello was pleasant  -- even though it seemed that all of Europe had the same plan I did. Inside the church, there was a free concert in honor of the holy day, with music by Franz Joseph Haydn, Baldassare Galuppi and, of course, Antonio Vivaldi. However, one thing was missing -- no holy water! (I had to make my own:) Hopefully, next year someone will correct the situation.

Since I have written so much about Ferragosto before (and since the whole world seems to be on vacation), I think it's time for a Flashback Summer!

From 2008:

Basilica of San Marco
Yesterday, I found myself in a miraculous position -- alone, on my knees, on the high altar of the Basilica in front of the tomb of Saint Mark, the brilliant gold of the Pala D'Oro shimmering in the background.

August 15th is Ferragosto here in Italy, and also Assumption Day, the day that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was assumed into Heaven. It is an ancient pagan festival combined with a Catholic holiday.

Click to continue reading:

Mary Ascends to Heaven and Pala D'Oro, The Golden Cloth - Venice

From 2011:
Assumption of Mary by Titian (1516-18)
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, is one of my favorite holidays here in Italy. It is when Mary ascended into Heaven, body and soul. I went to Mass at the Basilica this morning in the company of a German woman whose father is Catholic and mother is Lutheran. She remarked that the Catholic religion is one of the few where female divinity is worshipped along with the male image of God.

Click to continue reading:

The Assumption of Mary - The Divine Female

From 2013:

Santa Maria Assunta (Interior) - Torcello
It seems that every year August 15th is a glorious day here in Venice, both in terms of the weather and in spirit. Yesterday the temperature dropped, and we had strong winds and rain, as if the heavens themselves were sweeping the earth fresh and new for today, Assumption Day, the day that Mary Went Up to Heaven. Today it is sunny and warm, but not too hot, with plenty of pleasant, polite people, but not too crowded. Today Venice is just right.

Click to continue reading:

Up, Up and Away! There Goes Mary... August 15, 2013

Happy Ferragosto!

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Orson Welles' Lost MERCHANT OF VENICE to Premiere at Venice Film Festival

Orson Welles as Shylock in Merchant of Venice (1969)
(Venice, Italy) Orson Welles said "...I've always felt a special sympathy for Shylock and I've wanted to communicate that sympathy to a loving audience."

In 1969, while in the middle of shooting a condensed version of The Merchant of Venice as part of a television special, Orson's Bag, for CBS, the network yanked the funding over tax disputes with US authorities. Welles completed the project himself, playing the character of Shylock. After a private screening in Rome, two of the three working copy reels were stolen in "some mysterious way," leaving the original negative, which had no sound.

When Orson Welles died in 1985 at age 70, The Merchant of Venice was unable to be completed the way Welles had envisioned. That is, until recently, after the original script was found, together with the composer's notes and other lost elements, and all the king's horses and all the king's men finally put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Orson Welles
In honor of the centennial of the birth of Orson Welles -- May 15, 1915 -- two Venetian masterpieces inspired by Shakespeare will screen at the pre-opening tribute of the 72nd Venice Film Festival on the Lido. On the evening of September 1, 2015 at 8:30 PM, the world premiere of the reconstructed and restored 30-minute film The Merchant of Venice will be shown in the Sala Darsena, along with the original full-length Italian version of Othello.

The world premiere of Othello was originally supposed to have been presented at the Venice Film Festival in September, 1951, but Welles withdrew it from competition at the last minute, saying it wasn't ready -- now Orson Welles' Italian version of Othello will finally show at the Lido. A shorter English version was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 1952, and won the Grand Prix.

The evening will also include the first live public performance by the Orchestra Classica di Alessandra of the original unpublished score for The Merchant of Venice by the renowned composer Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, which has been transcribed from the only performance recorded for the film.

Orson Welles
Renaissance man Orson Welles was gifted with many abilities. In addition to directing, acting and writing, he also dabbled as an artist. Shakespeare & Cigars is an exhibition that features twelve studies of Shakespearean characters-- Macbeth, Othello, Falstaff, Shylock -- painted by Orson Welles on the backs of the wooden boxes of his favorite cigars.

The 72nd Venice International Film Festival, directed by Alberto Barbera, runs September 2 through 12, 2015.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sweet Champagne! Veuve Clicquot RICH Premieres at Hotel Danieli Terrace in Venice

Veuve Clicquot Rich Premieres on Danieli Terrace
(Venice, Italy) The innovative Champagne, Veuve Clicquot, has been around for centuries. The favorite bubbly in royal courts throughout Europe, Veuve Clicquot is at the forefront in introducing new generations to sparkling wine. Sure to shock conservative Champagne fans and delight those open to new experiences, their latest creation, Veuve Clicquot RICH, breaks all the rules.

Veuve Clicquot RICH on Danieli Terrace
Served on ice, with added, selected ingredients -- like pineapple, bell pepper or cucumber -- the sweet Veuve Clicquot Rich Champagne is specifically made for mixing. With this creative mixology, Veuve Clicquot is determined to shatter the notion that Champagne is only for birthdays and New Year's Eve, hoping to transform it into a conventional drink. Last night, Veuve Clicquot Rich made its debut in Venice at the Restaurant Terrazza Danieli, the rooftop terrace of Hotel Danieli.

Veuve Clicquot RICH
According to tradition, the term "rich" was applied to sparkling wines because of their sugar content, which is where Dominique Demarvile, Veuve Clicquot Cellar Master, found inspiration for the new effervescent drink. At the debut, the glamorous bottle made its appearance wrapped in elegant silver foil; the serving glasses were big and bold.

Nibbles at the Danieli Terrace
The buffet featured lots of fish, much of it raw, including sushi, which I gorged myself on. I love sushi smothered with wasabi, and was given my own green scoop so I could indulge. The food was a perfect complement to the sweet Veuve Clicquot Rich -- in fact, I preferred drinking it to Japanese beer.

Veuve Clicquot Rich Venice debut crowd on Danieli Terrace
The guests all seemed to enjoy the evening, judging by the quantities of Rich and food consumed. I chatted with the under-30 crowd, who agreed they preferred Veuve Clicquot Rich to "regular" Champagne. The nifty little booklet that accompanied the launch encourages you to become your own mixologist, and includes different recipes you can experiment with.

Veuve Clicquot Rich is one of the exclusive new brands unveiled by LVMH that celebrate the summer season. In Venice, Rich is available only at the Hotel Danieli until the end of the year. Go to Veuve Clicquot Rich for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog