As the oldest film festival in the world, the Venice International Film Festival is rich with history, culture and innovation.

Perhaps it’s taken the #MeToo movement to encourage the public to step back and take a good hard look at women’s role in film and to view the our leading ladies as more than just the love interest, but throughout time, women have been quiet thinkers and thought provokers in the industry. They do say that behind every great man there’s an even greater woman, so today we’d like to bring these BOLD women to the forefront and highlight those who will be in the limelight at the Venice International Film Festival 2019. Without further ado, here’s top 3 list of who to look out for at the Venice International Film Festival 2019.

Haifaa Al Mansour

Controversial Saudi Arabian film director Haifaa Al Mansour is the country’s first ever female director. One of the twelve children of Saudi poet Abdul Rahman Mansour, Haifaa grew up in a country that had no picture theatres between 1983 and 2018 and was introduced to film by her father who played video tapes at home. Haifaa studied Literature at the American University in Cairo and went on to complete a master’s degree in film at the University of Sydney, Australia.

She debuted at the Venice International Film Festival in 2012 where her first feature Wadja was screened and made history as the first feature-length film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, not to mention the only feature-length film made in Saudi Arabia by a female director.

She has received much criticism for her controversial works but continues to push boundaries, and while she did not originally intend to focus so much on women’s issues in her films, she has said that she found them too important not to address.

Nowadays Haifaa lives in LA with her husband and two children, still pushing boundaries, still making great films, and we can’t wait to see her latest film, The Perfect Candidate, which will be shown at the Venice International Film Festival 2019.


Letizia Battaglia

Sicilian photographer and photojournalist Letizia Battaglia realised her curiosity for photography in the 70’s as a single mother raising her three daughters, as she discovered that her articles were better acknowledged when accompanied by photographic evidence of the subject.

Working for L’Ora, left-wing newspaper in Palermo, she took some 600,000 photographs documenting the internal struggle of the Mafia, sometimes on the scene of up to 5 murders a day and stating that she suddenly possessed “an archive of blood”.

From 1985 to 1991 she sat on the chair of the Palermo city council’s Green Party and co-founded a monthly journal for women entitled Mezzocielo. In 1993, her photographs unexpectedly provided evidence that 7-time Italian Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, had been connected to the Sicilian Mafia, although by that time Battaglia had taken so many photos that she forgot that one even existed! She herself has appeared on camera before, and this year will be featured in La Mafia Non E Piu Quella Di Uno Volta (The Mafia is not what it used to be).


Penelope Cruz

You already know her name, but we just want to pay homage to another incredible year for Penelope Cruz. Penelope is the first Spanish actress to receive an Academy Award, which she received for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and she is also the first Spanish actress to receive a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

In 2018 she was praised for her portrayal of fashion giant Donatella Versace in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and this year she will star in the much-anticipated Wasp Network, a feature film following the story of Cuban spies working undercover in a terrorist organisation in Florida in the 1990s. Not much has been revealed yet about the film, but it will premiere at the Venice International and we are super excited to see it.


There are so many more incredible women appearing this year at the Venice Biennale, but these are our top 3 BOLD women to look out for there in 2019.