Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber acquires North American rights to Amei Wallach’s “Olympics of Art” Caper Doc 'Taking Venice'

By Kino Lorber | November 14, 2023
Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber acquires North American rights to Amei Wallach’s “Olympics of Art” Caper Doc 'Taking Venice'
Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber has acquired North American rights to Amei Wallach’s Taking Venice, an entertaining caper doc that explores the rumored rigging of the 1964 Venice Biennale. Taking Venice made its North American premiere at DOC NYC and will be released theatrically by Zeitgeist Films in spring 2024, followed by an educational, home video, and digital release on all major platforms by Kino Lorber. 
With an extraordinary cast of experts and insiders from the art world and extensive archival footage, Taking Venice uncovers the true story behind rumors that the U.S. government and a team of high-placed insiders rigged the 1964 Venice Biennale – the Olympics of art – so their chosen artist, Robert Rauschenberg, could win the grand prize. Taking Venice is directed by filmmaker and art critic Amei Wallach, whose film Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress, and The Tangerine was also released by Zeitgeist Films.
At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department was determined to fight communism with culture, setting its sights on the 1964 Venice Biennale. They engaged the help of high profile art insiders, including art dealers Leo Castelli and Ileana Sonnabend and curator Alan Solomon, to ensure that a young Robert Rauschenberg, whose work was yet to be taken seriously, would become the first American to win the grand prize. Rauschenberg’s inspiration – shocking when he first emerged in the 1950s – was that life was the prime material from which art could be made, incorporating objects like car parts, ironing boards, lightbulbs, taxidermied animals, comic strips, and magazine photographs into his work. The items and the strategies continuously changed as the world around him changed, but in his six decades as an artist, his insatiable appetite for experimentation never did. Rauschenberg has been called a forerunner to nearly every artistic movement since the second half of the twentieth century, and his influence only continues today.
More than 800,000 people attended the most recent Biennale in 2022, the largest crowds in its history. The 2024 Biennale will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the historic year that Robert Rauschenberg became the first American to win the Biennale’s Grand Prize, the International Prize in Painting.
Zeitgeist Co-Presidents Emily Russo and Nancy Gerstman said, “We were fascinated by this unknown history that plays like a whodunit of the art world, and of course it’s wonderful to work with director Amei Wallach again.”
Director Amei WaIlach added, “I am so excited to be working with Zeitgeist for a second time. Their sensitivity to art, history, and good storytelling make the Zeitgeist and Kino Lorber teams the perfect fit to bring Taking Venice to audiences in the U.S. and North America."
The deal for Taking Venice was negotiated by Emily Russo and Nancy Gerstman of Zeitgeist Films with Andrew Mer at BigFuss.

Zeitgeist Films is celebrating its 35th year in business with a retrospective of some of their past titles, including 4K restorations of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days and Guy Maddin’s Archangel.  Zeitgeist most recently released Nancy Buirski’s Desperate Souls: Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy, and will release Ken Loach’s The Old Oak in April 2024.