Venice rolls out red carpet

Film fest highlights homegrown and lesser-known talents

Editorial Staff
September 4, 2008

Silver screen stars Brat Pitt and George Clooney opened this year's Venice International Film Festival with the world premiere of their latest film, Burn After Reading, directed by 2008 Oscar winners, the Coen brothers. The much-anticipated film, however, is not among the 21 films in the competition.


In response to criticism over the lesser presence of Hollywood films competing in the 65th edition of the Venice film fest, festival director, Marco Mueller, said that Hollywood's ‘supporting' role this year was partly due to the 14-week writer's strike, which put the brakes on American filmmaking until its end last February.


With Tinsletown taking the back seat at this year's film fest, running from August 26 to September 6, the highly acclaimed competition has given way to independent cinema and emerging international talents. In fact, the five American films in competition are low-budget, ‘indie' films, while other countries with a strong presence are Japan, which boasts three movies in contention, including two animated films, and Italy, which has four flicks vying for the Golden Lion.


Italy's entries include Pupi Avati's Il papà di Giovanna (‘Giovanni's Father'); Pappi Corsicato's Il seme della discordia (‘The Seed of Discord'); Chilean-Italian Marco Bechis's Birdwatchers; and Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek's Un giorno perfetto (‘A Perfect Day'). The films by Opetez and Bechis have been touted as favourites.


Praised by the fashion and film world, the much-anticipated documentary on legendary Italian designer Valentino also premiered in Venice. Called Valentino: The Last Emperor, the out-of-competition movie directed by Vanity Fair reporter Matt Tyrnauer celebrates the life and career of the 75-year-old fashion icon.


Very pleased with the work, Valentino pronounced it his ‘authorised biography'; Mueller said it was ‘the most fictionalised non-fiction film I have seen lately.'

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