As The Venice Film Festival draws to a compelling close, here’s DRY’s take on the 79th edition — one full of thoughts, feels and brilliant drama. You’re welcome
Lights! Camera! Fashion! In a bid to prove that all good things come to those who wait, the 2022 Venice International Film Festival has come back bigger and better than ever. The renowned celebration serves as a creative platform for the international best up-and-coming and globally-known filmmakers, with this year marking the exciting edition after the challenging downturns of the pandemic. The festival continues charting progressive territories by representing both female and male filmmaking talent, showcasing hundreds of films directed or co-directed by trailblazing directors. Boasting a selection with something for everyone, from potent, politically charged dramas to visually striking coming of age art-house films, the film festival line-up features a breadth of storytelling for the taking. As for this year’s compelling cinematic threads? There’s more to the story. A documentary on Nan Goldin’s campaign against the Sacklers won the Golden Lion in Venice, which chronicles Goldin’s life and career, following her efforts of the past five years—since her own recovery from opioid addiction—to force a reckoning in the art world with the Sackler family. The Sackler name has become indelibly linked to the global opioid epidemic that some members of the family profited enormously from and are accused of fuelling via their company Purdue Pharma.
If you’re not already familiar with the bewitching work of American photographer Nan Goldin, never attending one of her documentary screenings at Hackney’s Moth Club, not spotted her prints on the decks of Supreme skateboards, or were just not granted the joy of discovering her raw photographs in an art or photography class, this film will give you a crash course into exactly what you’ve missed from the master artist over the past forty years. Goldin, who was formerly addicted to Oxycontin following a minor surgery, has been addressing the crisis head-on by founding protest group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) over the past years. Since then, the organisation has been lobbying galleries funded by Sackler, the pharmaceutical company who manufacture the drug, to reject their patronage and donations, even staging a protest at South Kensington’s Victoria and Albert over the last years. Her work reflects upon the dark and harrowing journey addiction has taken her on, and is accompanied by an equally emotive score from composer and instrumentalist Mica Levi (Under The Skin, Jackie). Hers is an incredibly powerful anthethis to fashion’s perfect gaze: one that eschews the commonplace beautification of the female body for a brooding, yet menacing portrayal of femininity and illness, finding disturbing balance between mental health and identity. It’s the details that win the race: the dramatic crux of Goldin’s work ruled supreme across the realm of fashion communication, portrayed as a medium of reflection and profound storytelling that acted like a strengthening weapon against the odds of our times. It’s no coincidence that the portrayals of her characters resemble a quietly potent mimicry of the modern age, disturbed by the frenzy pace of the world’s happenings at an erratic pace. Of course, the Venice Film Festival of Goldin win just scratches the surface of the wealth of proposals of her craft, and, in her visual work, whether it be giant blow-up prints of dreamy and dark landscapes harking back to the noughties or her exhibitions’ namesake found footage pieces about the enchanting mermaids of Greek mythology, it’s clear Goldin’s gift for totally overwhelming but gripping story-telling is well and truly still intact, leaving a relatable legacy beyond conventions.