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Venice 2019: Things Fall Apart

Towering proud and glorious above the Lido’s shoreline, a few meters away from the Adriatic and the red carpets sprawling right behind it, the Hotel Excelsior shimmers like a majestic giant, the last surviving emblem of a golden past. It’s the Venice Film Festival’s most iconic building, a triumph of Moorish domes and skylights opened in 1908 and crystallized in celluloid some seventy years later by Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. It was here, in August 1932, that the festival’s first edition kicked off, back when the event was yet to be regarded as a competitive review, and the first program promised fifteen nights of screenings. Eighty-seven years and seventy-five editions later, I am sitting at the hotel’s terrace, waiting for my turn to interview director Pietro Marcello on his official lineup entry, Martin Eden. A documentarian by training, Marcello bowed on the

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