Das Venedig Prinzip (The Venice Syndrome)

Poster for Das Venedig Prinzip (The Venice Syndrome)

Winter 2014 Documentary series

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Andreas Pichler

Screenplay by Thomas Tielsch and Andreas Pichler


Rated NR · 1h 22m
Austria / Italy / Germany
Italian and German

View trailer

Das Venedig Prinzip (The Venice Syndrome)

Venice is pure romance: that which all Europeans yearn for, the dream of all Americans, the wish of all Japanese. But the world’s most beautiful city turns into a ghost town at nightfall. Entire quarters, long since abandoned by their inhabitants, stand empty, their structures merely providing a myth to serve business interestsTwenty million foreigners visited the city last year. That is an average of 60,000 per day. And this year it will be more still. By comparison, there are only 48,000 inhabitants, the same amount as there were after the Great Plague of 1438. And next year it will be fewer still. For the city is becoming uninhabitable. Venice’s own urban life has almost collapsed; it scarcely exists.

This film by Italian director Andreas Piclher shows what remains of Venetian life: a subculture of tourist service industries; a port for monstrous cruise ships which is waiting to be expanded; Venetians who are moving to the mainland as there are no longer affordable apartments to be found; an aged noblewoman who treats the municipal council with scorn; a realtor who is considering abandoning the sinking ship. It is a requiem for a still grand city, an illustration of how common property becomes the prey of the few and an elegy to the last Venetians, their humour and their hearts.

“I grew up in South Tyrol, a region in northern Italy not far from Venice, that today ranks among the most popular tourist regions in the Alps. That’s where I witnessed how entire villages were radically transformed by tourism within just a few years. Venice is a truly spectacular and dramatic example of this phenomenon. The underlying principle of this type of business is that public space is transformed into a commodity, which a select few can use for their private deals, while all losses are left to the general public. The ultimate scenario is an empty, crumbling city: nothing more than a stage set, a kind of Disneyland.” (Andreas Pichler) 

“Working in a loose, intimate style that belies his strong journalistic point of view, Pichler gathers testimony from a host of native Venetians bemoaning their hometown’s chilly social and economic climate. The most eloquent character, however, is the city itself, which seems to be sinking into a watery grave right before our eyes.” (Adam Nayman, The Globe and Mail)

The Venice Syndrome is a must-see for anyone planning to visit Venice. If you are thinking of dropping in for a few hours during a cruise, you may want to think again. Yet, disturbing as the film is, Venice still looks hauntingly beautiful.” (Linda Herrick, The New Zealand Herald)