The Venice Film Festival will pay tribute to late Italian icon Gina Lollobrigida, who died in January, with a pre-opening event featuring a double bill of freshly restored works in which she stars.
The Lido’s annual pre-opening event on Aug. 29 will feature a 27-minute short by Orson Welles titled “Portrait of Gina.” In 1968, Welles interviewed Lollobrigida in her villa on the Appian Way as the pilot for an ABC TV series — a U.S. version of “Around the World With Orson Welles”– that ABC rejected.
Welles’ portrait of the diva remained in the vaults until 1986, when it was screened at the Venice Film Festival one year after Orson Welles’ death. This piece has been defined by Welles as a “personal essay” on Lollobrigida. Interestingly, when Lollobrigida saw “Portrait of Gina” in Venice in 1986, she reportedly tried to have it banned. The short’s restoration was done by the Munich Film Museum and Italy’s Cinecittà.
“Portrait of Gina” will be followed by the 1953 film “La Provinciale” (“The Wayward Wife) by Italian director Mario Soldati, a drama based on a novel by Alberto Moravia. In what Venice called “one of the best performances in her career,” Lollobrigida plays a small-town girl who impulsively marries a nerdish science professor and becomes rapidly bored. The restoration was done by Rome’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale film archives.
Both films are part of the festival’s Venice Classics section and also of a broader series of initiatives to pay tribute to Lollobrigida from Italy’s culture ministry, including a major photo exhibition titled “I mondi di Gina” (“Gina’s Worlds”) featuring images from the archives of Rome’s national entities Luce-Cinecittà and Centro Sperimentale.
The 80th edition of Venice will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9. The lineup will be announced on July 25.