Sometimes controversial director Abel Ferrara addressed the idea of cancel culture in today’s world and whether it had become more difficult to make the kinds of films he once did. “It’s on the artist to uncancel himself, to come clean with himself,” he said. “If you’re paranoid about reactions, you shouldn’t be expressing yourself.”

Ferrara was speaking at the press conference for his out of competition documentary Sportin’ Life here at the Venice Film Festival, and also collected the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award.

Sportin’ Life is about the relationship Ferrara has to his work, to Willem Dafoe and to his music and art. These relationships were the starting point, and Ferrara has said, “I could not avoid facing what the world went through this year with the pandemic.”

The introspective, personal film was made during lockdown with a team in New York and Ferrara in Rome. In what was a “kind of illegal” move, he visited his editing room each day, “but it was only a couple of blocks and on the way to the grocery store,” he explained.

The crew had originally taken their cameras to the Berlin Film Festival and also traveled to Croatia, “Then we went from one situation that was kind of the last party in the world in Berlin and a week later we were in lockdown.