Idea for the Venice Film Festival
The festival was born of an idea of the president of the Biennial of Venice, the count Giuseppe Volpi of Misurata, of the sculptor Antonio Maraini, secretary general, and of Lucian De Feo, secretary general of the Society of Nationals headquartered in Rome, who agreed the review should be held in the lagoon city, and that he would be the first director.
The first film event
With good reason, the festival is considered by authorities to be the first international event of its kind. The first edition was held on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior at Lido of Venice, but was not yet regarded as a competitive review.
Many great classics presented
Although only the names of the films were presented to the public, this edition of 1932 boasted titles of great merit, which later on became true "classics" in the history of cinema; of note "Forbidden", by the great American director Frank Capra, "Grand Hotel" by Edmund Goulding,"The Champ" by King Vidor, the first and unmatched"Frankenstein" by James Whale, "The devil to pay"by George Fitzmaurice, the Italian "Gli uomini, che mascalzoni..." (Men, Those Rascals...) of Mario Camerini, "A nous la liberté" (Give Us Liberty)by René Clair.
In addition to the films cited, in competition were the works of other great directors, such as British Victor Saville - with three films - American Ernst Lubitsch - with two films - Howard Hawks, Russian Nikolaj Ekk, French Maurice Tourneur, German Anatole Litvak and Leni Fiefenstahl.
Exceeded expectations of success
Prominent personages of this first show were the actors that appeared on the great screen through the projected films and guaranteed great success for the festival in every aspect, bringing over 25 thousand spectators to the halls.
Many stars present
Some of the greatest stars of the age were present, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Fredric March, Wallace Beery, Norma Shearer, James Cagney, Ronald Colman, Loretta Young, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, not to forget Italian idol Vittorio De Sica and the great Boris Karloff, remembered for his role as the monster in the first Frankenstein.
The first films presented
The very first film in the festival was shown on the evening of August 6, 1932: "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Rouben Mamoulian; after the film followed a great dance in the halls of the Excelsior. The first Italian film, Gli uomini, che mascalzoni... (Men, Those Rascals...) by Mario Camerini, was introduced on the evening of August 11, 1932.
Acknowledgments by referendum
Due to the lack of a judge and the awarding of official prizes, introduced only later, a list of acknowledgements was decided by popular vote, a tally determined by the number of people flocking to the films, and announced by the Organizing Committee on which presided Attilio Fontana of the I.C.E. - Istituto Commercio Estero (Institute of Foreign Trade): from this the best director was declared - Russian Nikolaj Ekk for the film "Putevka v zizn" (The Road to Life), while the film by René Clair was voted best film.