The HFPA Celebrates the Venice Film Festival

by Elisabeth Sereda September 3, 2017
George and Amal Clooney at Venice 2017, HFPA reception

danielle venturelli photo

How many events can boast that they hosted not one but two notorious queens of the British Empire? Last night the HFPA welcomed Dame Helen Mirren AND Dame Judi Dench at its annual cocktail reception in the Excelsior Hotel.

They were joined by mere Hollywood royalty when George and Amal Clooney arrived. HFPA president Meher Tatna presented them with a grant for their foundation, joking “that as you know we don’t like parties and we don’t like drinking but we do like giving money away”. George talked about The Clooney Foundation For Justice that he founded with his wife, where they educate and house over 5,000 refugees. The Clooneys then left for the premiere of George’s new film Suburbicon, but not before Meher Tatna invited them all to the 75th anniversary of the Golden Globe Awards on January 7, 2018.

Susan Sarandon and sons at the HFPA party, Venice 2017

Susan Sarandon and sons Miles and Jack Henry at the HFPA reception, Venice 2017.

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Susan Sarandon stopped by “just for a minute”, then stayed for an hour and a half before heading to the other side of the Lido with her two sons to watch the sunset over Venice.

Frances McDormand and Judi Dench. HFPA reception, Venice 2017

Frances McDormand and Dame Judi Dench at the HFPA reception, Venice 2017

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Judi Dench had “a grand old time” at the party and promoting her new film Victoria & Abdul. She chatted with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri star Frances McDormand, who explained why she never takes selfies with fans: “I do think it takes a piece of your soul. And because I refuse politely, it gives us a topic for conversation.” What about the fact that she is an actress after all? “Well, then it is my decision to get in front of the camera. And I get paid for it!” she laughed.

Donald Sutherland at the HFPA Reception, Venice 2017

Donald Sutherland at the HFPA reception, Venice 2017

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McDormand was joined by her director Martin McDonagh, producer Graham Broadbent and co-star Sam Rockwell, who was goofing off with old friend Vince Vaughn who came to the Lido for A Brawl in Cellblock 99 by S. Craig Zahler. Helen Mirren missed her leading man Donald Sutherland – they star in Paolo Virzi’s The Leisure Seeker - by a few minutes: she came straight from the airport.


Kiernan Shipka and Susan Sarando at the HFPA reception, Venice 2017

Kiernan Shipka and Susan Sarandon at the HFPA reception, Venice 2017

getty images/danielle venturelli


Young Hollywood was represented by the lovely Kate Bosworth and Kiernan Shipka who joked that although she cannot go to a bar in America, “I am of legal drinking age here!” but only had sparkling water. The festival itself was well represented by director Alberto Barbera and jury members Rebecca Hall and John Landis.

The only – unwanted – guest that luckily stayed away was a massive thunderstorm. It hovered in the background for hours but did not burst until after the Suburbicon premiere, prompting the ever-practical Julianne Moore to take off her heels before boarding a boat to the Cipriani for a private dinner with her co-star and director.