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MPI Rolls Out the Red Carpet at the Venice Film Festival


The curtain has fallen on the 74th edition of the Venice International Film Festival. Guillermo Del Toro’s dark fairy tale The Shape of Water won the Golden Lion award for best film, and the 15 MPI event planner protagonists of a behind-the-scenes event are back to tell the story of their exclusive road to the floating red carpet at the Lido from 3-5 September.

Venice Film Festival 2018

My fourth time participating in the world’s oldest film festival was enriched by the first European edition of MPI’s Experiential Event Series, the product of a successful collaboration between MPI, represented by Lynette Smith, event specialist, and Federico Toja, director of chapter business - Europe; the MPI Italia Chapter, represented by Mauro Bernardini, chapter president, managing director of All Star Agency, the event organiser and one of the main sponsors of the initiative with DFS; Freeman; Starwood Hotels (Hotel Danieli, Westin Europa & Regina); Vela Spa; Hilton Molino Stucky; and Convention Bureau Italia.

Venice Festival

My perspective from addicted film festival fan to MPI Italia welcoming committee member has broadened, putting me in contact with 15 top event planners coming from the U.S., Canada and Latvia and a representative of ADC Group—a variety of specialties that helped to elevate the personal and professional experience and knowledge. By listening and catching the sentiment and emotions of the main players, the event exceeded their expectations.

“The trip turned out to be not only educational, but also super inspiring and motivational,” say Paulius Janciauskas and Atis Artemjevs from the Micecream agency, located in Riga. “We had a chance to learn and experience two amazing events—the brightly coloured Historical Regatta parade from the famous ‘machina,’ the spectacular floating stage located in front of the Ca’ Foscari palace; and Red Carpet—breathtaking, something we will never forget and we are truly grateful for.”

Linda Nelson, president and CEO of To Plan Ahead LLC, adds: “I had only ever dreamed I would attend anything like it, and so I was thrilled that MPI provided this opportunity. What also made it very special was the fact we were such a small and intimate group, which allowed us to network and share the Venice experience that we wouldn’t have been able to do if it had been a much larger group. Venice is such a charming place, obviously steeped in history, offering a whole array of good food and wines. Of course, this attracts a lot of people.”

Venice Festival

Beyond the fascinating Venice program, from an event planner’s point of view, the MPI slogan “When we meet, we change the world” translates into sharing ideas, values, travel details, stories, best or worst practices about our own events and lives, overcoming language and cultural barriers, creating contacts and making some great friendships in cities where we could be asked to manage an event. In Venice, we took inspiration from cultural guided walks, the unmissable opportunity to experience the city from the lagoon with the private water taxi by night, unusual venues with beautiful panoramic views such as those offered by Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi (where the annual MPI Italia Movie Charity Auction took place) and the CSR initiative created to raise funds for MediCinema Italia Onlus with the cooperation of Italian and local stakeholders from the meeting and event industry.

“Aside from networking, my goal for participating was to take what I learned about the planning and execution of the film festival and apply it to my large-scale events,” says Marisa Nebosky, global trade show and special events manager for a prominent consumer electronics company. “Attending a talk about the history and the backstage of the Venice Film Festival provided some great background on both the festival and on the city. Talking with those involved with the planning allowed me to understand their thought processes and how I might work through similar logistics. I also begin to think about extra activities I could include with my own events and new experiences I could strive to create and make unbelievable moments for my attendees. My only wish is that our time at the festival could have been longer”,

One of the biggest and most glamorous highlights for all the guests was the red carpet experience and the VIP Lexus Lounge—tasting the iconic Aperitivo Cocktail Spritz surrounded by pandemonium that ensued from fans and photographers; watching the cars arrive; seeing filmmakers and screenwriters; taking part in the official premiere of the darkly comic drama Three billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (met with a roughly 10-minute standing ovation); and sitting in Sala Grande a few rows behind the cast (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) and co-producer/director and Academy Award® winner Martin McDonagh.

Let’s play the next MPI Experiential Event Series movie!


The MPI Experiential Event Series takes you behind the scenes of the world’s most impressive entertainment, sports, culinary and mega-events. Learn more about the series at

About the Author

Olimpia Ponno

Olimpia Ponno, is the owner of Olimpia Ponno Consultancy, past president of the MPI Italia Chapter, chair of the Mentoring Program Task Force and a member of the 2018 SITE + MPI Global Forum local host committee.