The Venice Film Festival was much more than just about movies.
Hollywood stars and directors took the opportunity to voice their distress over the Syrian refugee crisis, while pleading for tolerance and compassion, reported Reuters.
Mexican Oscar-winning "Birdman" director Alfonso Cuaron was the first to urge Europe to take in the people flocking to its shores.
“I’m a Mexican living in Europe and I’ve always felt welcome,” Cuaron, head of the competition jury, said at the opening ceremony on Wednesday.
“I would like that today and in the future that the same welcome would be extended to all migrants.”
As for British actress Tilda Swinton, who was also there for the screening of "A Bigger Splash," was more concerned about the way refugees were referred to in the press.
“May I just suggest by the way that we all get out of the habit of calling anybody migrants in this situation?,” she said.
“We’re dealing with refugees, war refugees.”
Meanwhile, British director Tom Hooper said migrants and refugees, like transgender people, were victims of prejudice.
Hooper's film "The Danish Girl" stars Eddie Redmayne, winner of an Oscar for best actor, as the pioneering transgender woman Lili Elbe.
“I think this film is about inclusion, but it’s about the inclusion that’s made possible by love,” Hooper said.
“We live in a deeply divided world. I mean what’s happening on the shores of Europe at the moment, the extraordinary refugee crisis that reaches out to us at the moment, is an appeal to our hearts.”
Of all the films shown so far at the 11-day festival, Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s "A Bigger Splash" refers to the crisis the most pointedly.
The film is a remake of the 1969 French film "La Piscine" (The Swimming Pool), in which "a vicious love quartet was played out on the Cote d’Azur," writes Reuters.
A Bigger Splash" is based in Pantelleria, where it incorporates flashes of information from television broadcasts about refugees and immigrants landing on Lampedusa.
It further shows a group of refugees hiding out in Pantelleria's hills and others who have been caged beside the local police station.
“They’re human beings, theoretically,” one of the characters says.
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