J.A. Bayona’s Netflix feature film Society of the Snow will have its global debut on the Lido (a beach in Venice, Italy) on September 9, 2023, as it has been chosen to close the Venice Film Festival. The news comes a day after the actors’ strike cost Venice its intended opening night feature, Challengers, starring Zendaya, and looks to signal a trend away from American and toward more European programming.
What is ‘Society of the Snow’ about?
J.A. Bayona’s survivalist thriller, which is also the filmmaker’s first Spanish-language film in 16 years, is planned to close the 2023 Venice Film Festival. Society of the Snow is set in 1972 and follows the tale of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which was hired to bring a rugby team to Chile but instead ended up crashing in the middle of the Andes. Only 29 of the 45 people on board survived the crash, and because they’ve been trapped in one of the most inhospitable and evidently inaccessible locations in the world – they are forced to go to extreme lengths in order to survive.
Why is the festival shifting away from American programming?
The announcement of making the closing film a non-American one comes as autumn festivals prepare themselves for the effect of the SAG-AFTRA strike, and just one day after Venice lost its intended opening night picture. Challengers, Luca Guadagnino’s R-rated tennis drama starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, and Mike Faist, was scheduled to open the 80th edition of the festival on September 15, but the strike has forced MGM to push the film to April 2024, meaning it will miss Venice entirely. The opening night slot has been taken up by Edoardo De Angelis’ Comandante.
According to reports, Venice director Alberto Barbera revealed last week that he was working on a plan B if American films ended up participating in the festival due to the actors strike, informing programmers that in that case the event “would be a Pan-European festival.” With these new announcements, Plan B appears to be in effect.