|Sam Mendes & Antonello Dè Medici, GM Hotel Danieli - Photo: Mirco Toffolo|
(Venice, Italy) The exclusive Variety bash at Terrazza Danieli on the eve of the grand opening of the Venice Biennale International Film Festival is now in its seventh edition. This year, the legendary show-biz magazine and Starwood Hotels celebrated the career of Academy Award-winning director, Sam Mendes, who is the President of the Jury of this year's film festival.
Sam Mendes won the Oscar for his debut film, American Beauty, and the Danieli soirée, called "Revolutionary Beauty," was inspired by that film, as well as Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road. This year, all the guests were given red roses made of silk to wear on their lapels -- in fact, the terrace and the interior were teeming with the color red -- there was even a sofa masquerading as a rose-colored American Beauty bathtub.
|Cat Bauer goofing around in American Beauty bathtub at Variety party|
Like the tagline, the theme of the evening was a closer look at beauty. The menus were inspired by Mendes' films, and curated by the Executive Chefs of three of the Starwood Hotels: Chef Alberto Fol of The Westin Europa & Regina whipped up wicked wonders based on American Beauty, Chef Daniele Turco from The Gritti Palace spiced up the Road to Perdition, and Chef Dario Parascandolo from the Hotel Danieli took us on a trip down Revolutionary Road.
|Fish burgers inspired by the "Mr. Smiley" American Beauty scene|
Sam Mendes thought it was amusing to see all the food that was inspired by his movies, and jokingly said that in the future he would make movies inspired by other people's menus. "Except martinis."
|Alejandro Aravena & Cat Bauer at Variety party - Terrazza Danieli|
Last Friday, I was over by Rialto when I saw Alejandro Aravena, winner of this year's Pritzker Architectural Prize and the Director of the Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition, Reporting from the Front, get off the vaporetto. He said he would be in Venice for meetings for the next eight days, and I hoped I would see him around. Sure enough, there he was on the Terrazza Danieli, a force of nature in the Biennale wind machine, shaking up the forest and shedding some light on how we build the environments of our world.
When I lived in Hollywood, I loved to read Daily Variety at lunch (it came in the mail) while sitting in my kitchen nook and gazing at the eucalyptus trees in the backyard. So it's a sweet nostalgia when I see the familiar Variety logo every morning on the Lido. I grab a copy and settle down with a cappuccino and brioche outside the new fire-engine red theater, the Sala Giardino, surrounded by the lush gardens where the ugly hole about the size of a football field used to be. Yes, The Hole is finally gone!
|One of the proud creators of the garden for the new Sala Giardino|
The great Biennale wind machine has been blowing for more than a century now, stirring up the dust, where curious minds from all over the globe make the pilgrimage to Venice, touch base, and move forward into the future.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that after premiering three Academy Award winning films in the last three years -- Gravity, Birdman and Spotlight -- the world's oldest film festival was once again Hollywood's award-season launchpad.
There are lots of important films to talk about this year, so stay tuned!
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