"I hope this will be a restart for everybody...the beginning of new hope for the film industry."

Venice Festival Director Alberto Barbera (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty)

“I hope this will be a restart for everybody…the beginning of new hope for the film industry.”

The global film industry has a new start date.

On Sept. 2, when Alberto Barbera rolls out the red carpet for the 77th Venice International Film Festival, it will mark the beginning of the post-COVID-19 era.

No one really knows what’s coming but it seems fitting that Venice, the world’s first film festival, is the one tasked with rebooting cinema in the wake of the global pandemic.

Barbera will present a slightly stripped-down festival this year but it will still be a proper A-list event with 18 competition titles including two studio-backed movies — Sony’s The World to Come from director Mona Fastvold featuring Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck, Katherine Waterston and Christopher Abbott and Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland with Frances McDormand and David Strathairn — amid an impressive lineup of new international arthouse features.

“It is an extraordinary festival in an extraordinary time,” Barbera told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, shortly after announcing this year’s line up. “But we this will be a restart for everybody…the beginning of new hope for the film industry.”

Congratulations on pulling together a film festival in the current climate. How did the new reality of COVID-19 impact your preparations and your selection for Venice 77?

Of course we were working under very difficult conditions. It was total uncertainty all the time. Until maybe mid-May we didn’t know if the festival would take place at all. Most of the festivals were cancelled so thought it might be impossible to have a festival  in September. It was only as the situation in Italy began to improve that we thought it might happen. But then the safety protocols initially meant we could only invite maybe 25-30 films. That wouldn’t have been enough. Only at the beginning of June did I become more optimistic that it could be done.