Art and Experience:  The Venice Film Festival has cancelled its opening-night dinner and beachside gala in solidarity with victims of the Italian earthquake.

The dinner and party were planned for August 31, following the world premiere of Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”  The musical film’s red carpet will not be affected.

The decision was taken by artistic director Alberto Barbera in tandem with the fest’s parent organization, the Venice Biennale, headed by Paolo Baratta.

The Biennale in a statement “expressed deep condolences for the victims and absolute solidarity and closeness to the victims and the communities which were hit hardly by the quake.”

The powerful earthquake, which rocked a stretch of central Italy on Wednesday, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, has killed at least 247 people, according to the most recent count.

Thousands of rescuers are sifting through rubble in hilltop communities, including the medieval town of Amatrice, which was razed to the ground and suffered 181 dead; Accumuli; and Pescara del Tronto (pictured). The regions affected by the quake are Umbria, Lazio and Marche. Experts say the quake is comparable in intensity to the one that hit the Abruzzo region, also in central Italy, which killed more than 300 people in 2009.

The 73rd edition of Venice will run August 31-September 10.

Source: Variety