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Why Adam Driver, Jessica Chastain and More Stars May Attend the Venice Film Festival Amid SAG-AFTRA Strike

SAG-AFTRA Actors Join WGA Writers On The Picket Line In New York
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

A few familiar faces are expected to attend the 2023 Venice Film Festival despite the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. 

Adam Driver and Jessica Chastain are among just a few of the A-list celebrities set to appear at the annual event — which kicks off on Wednesday, August 30, and runs until Saturday, September 9 — due to he Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Interim Agreement.

The guild released a statement on Sunday, August 27, expanding on the parameters of the agreement, which is a complete, separate and distinct contract that includes all terms and conditions for producers looking to employ our members on their specific independent productions. (Members are still barred from promoting any of their current or future projects connected to struck companies — the studios — through press appearances, red carpets and conventions.)

“Some of our fellow members have been subject to negative comments for participating in projects with an Interim Agreement, particularly when it comes time for them to promote their work, including at festivals. Whether from within or without our organization, not only are remarks of this nature unhelpful to performers, but by dividing us, they do the AMPTP’s work for them,” the statement reads. “To be crystal clear, once an agreement is in place, we fully encourage all of our SAG-AFTRA members to work under that agreement AND to promote work made under that agreement. The more projects that get made with the Interim Agreement, the weaker the AMPTP becomes. So, let’s lift up our fellow performers who are out there working.”

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The union added that seeing actors attend festivals for non-major studio work is a “source of pride” which allows corporate executives to “look out and see these independent projects thriving, while their greed and disrespect holds up their own productions.” 

According to Variety, Driver, 39, will appear in Venice for Micheal Mann’s Ferrari, in which he plays the titular character, while Chastain, 46, will be in attendance for Michel Franco’s Memory. Landry Jones, Jacob Elordi, Cailee Spaeny and Mads Mikkelsen are also scheduled to attend.

"Marriage Story" Red Carpet Arrivals - The 76th Venice Film Festival, Adam Driver
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July, while the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) has been marching the picket lines since May. Both labor unions began their strikes due to similar issues with the AMPTP including an agreement on fair wages, residuals and the use of artificial intelligence in the industry. 

“This is a very seminal hour for us. I went in thinking that we would be able to avert a strike. The gravity of this move is not lost on me,” Fran Drescher, president of the guild, stated in a press conference one day before the strike took effect. “It’s a very serious thing that impacts thousands, if not millions of people all across this country and around the world. Not only members of this union, but people who work in other industries that service the people that work in this industry. … We had no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity.”

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Meanwhile, the AMPTP — who represents the major studios including Paramount, Netflix, Amazon, Universal and Warner Bros. — responded in a statement that said its members were disappointed by the breakdown in negotiations, calling the strike “the Union’s choice, not ours.”

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