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Protesters crash Venice film fest's red carpet

September 7, 2019

Hundreds rushed the red carpet on the Venice International Film Festival's final day to demand climate action and a ban on cruise ships in the Italian city. Banners read: "Our home is on fire" and "No to cruise ships."

Italy: Venice climate protest
Image: AFP/A. Pizzoli

Demanding that municipal authorities ban the huge cruise ships that threaten the cultural and literal foundations of one of the world's most historic cities, up to 400 protesters on Saturday targeted the red carpet of the Venice International Film Festival, where Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix have premiered their latest films over the past 11 days.

"We want to address the topic of the climate crisis," said Chiara Buratti, a local housing activist and opponent of cruise ships. "We think that it is more important than anything that we can see in the world now."

Read more: Climate change, mass tourism threaten Alps

The protesters, who represent Italian and international groups, had taken part in the five-day Venice Climate Camp event, which runs until Sunday. Nongovernmental organizations have long called for a ban on cruise ships in Venice, one of the world's most overtouristed cities, and its lagoon, which have spots on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

Scarlett Johansson
Protesters called on Scarlett Johansson and other celebrities to take a stand on climateImage: La Biennale di Venezia/ASAC

'Take a position'

Buratti said the demonstrators would also march elsewhere on the Lido later Saturday. Protesters were calling on celebrities to "take a position," she said. "We are on the red carpet today. We will stay here, ask them to join us on the red carpet."

Read more: In times of climate crisis, is travel writing — or even traveling at all — still morally legitimate?

The German group Ende Gelände (Land's End) was also on hand for the climate conference and Saturday's protests. "The climate crisis has no borders," said Sina Reisch, a demonstrator. "Why should we stop at some border and just care about some local problems that we have? We must see that the struggles are connected."

The group later tweeted footage from the protest.

Journalists, industry types and film buffs across the world were expected to closely follow the festival's awarding of the prizes on Saturday. "So let us make Venice a symbol of the struggle against climate change, let us use the film festival as a sounding board," the organizers wrote on the climate camp's website.

mkg/tj (Reuters, AFP)

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