July 28, 2006

Venice film fest takes risks with premieres

By Eric J. Lyman

ROME (Hollywood Reporter) - Five U.S. films, including
Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain," are among the 21 titles that
will have their world premieres in competition at the Venice
Film Festival (August 30-September 9), organizers said

Three competition films hail from Italy, with two each from
France and Japan, and one from the U.K. There also are entries
for the first time from Chad and Thailand.

Organizers of the 63rd edition of the festival said it is
the first time that every film in competition will premiere at
the Venice fest -- a development that artistic director Marco
Mueller said was both a source of pride and a great risk.

"The risk of failure is high because all these films are
unknown quantities," Mueller said in an interview. "But it also
shows that producers realize that the Venice festival can be a
useful way to introduce a certain kind of film. It is a vote of
confidence in this event."

In addition to "The Fountain," the U.S. films competing at
Venice are Allen Coulter's "Hollywoodland," Alfonso Cuaron's
"Children of Men," Emilio Estevez's "Bobby," and Brian De
Palma's "The Black Dahlia," which was previously as the
festival's opening film.

Italy's entries include Gianni Amelio's "La Stella Non C'e"
(The Star's Not There), "Nuovomondo" (New World) from Emanuele
Crialese, and "Quei Loro Incontri" (Those Encounters of Theirs)
from Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet.

The French challenge comes from "L'Intouchable" from Benoit
Jacquot, and "Private Fears in Public Places" by Alain Resnais.
Japan will be represented in competition by Kon Satoshi's
"Paprika" and Otomo Katsuhiro's "Mushi-Shi."

Stephen Frears' much-anticipated drama "The Queen" will fly
the flag for British hopes. The film is about the friction
between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth
II in the wake of Princess Diana's death in 1997.

Thai film "Sang Sattawat" from Apichatpong Weerasethakul
and Chad's "Daratt" from Mahamat-Saleh Haroun are the first in
competition films from those countries.

The majority of the 21 films in competition were
co-productions spread across 27 countries. Only 18 countries
were represented last year on the Lido.

Outside competition, attention-grabbing selections include
Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center," Kenneth Branagh's
adaptation of the Mozart opera "The Magic Flute," "Belle
toujours" from Manoel de Oliveira -- the sequel to Luis
Bunuel's 1967 classic "Belle de Jour" -- and "Inland Empire"
from David Lynch, who will get a lifetime achievement award.

Also on tap is a tribute to Italian director Roberto
Rossellini, with screenings of two restored classics: "Rome
Open City" and "General Della Rovere."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter