August 31, 2006

Rivalry takes back seat as Venice fest opens

By Eric J. Lyman and Stuart Kemp

VENICE, Italy (Hollywood Reporter) - Venice Film Festival
organizers suspended a war of words with their upcoming Rome
rival as this year's event kicked off in low-key fashion
Wednesday with the world premiere of Brian De Palma's murder
mystery "The Black Dalhia."

Competition jurors Catherine Deneuve and Cameron Crowe
joined "Dahlia" stars Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett and
Aaron Eckhart on the red carpet before the screening, and
organizers introduced assorted politicos and Italian industry
highfliers before extolling the festival's virtues.

Subdued festival director Marco Muller, who earlier this
week has blasted the fledgling RomaCinemaFest as a haven for
films "that neither Cannes nor Venice wanted," was more
diplomatic Wednesday, focusing on Venice's lineup of films.

But the buzz on the sidelines continued to be about the
friction. Earlier in the week, Venice complained that Rome
broke an informal rule by announcing a significant role in Rome
for Nicole Kidman just as Venice was about to launch. Two of
Rome's directors countered Tuesday with criticisms of Venice.

Italian Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli said problems
between Venice and Rome were overblown.

"We should stop talking and start watching films," Rutelli
said at a briefing Wednesday. "This (problem) is not so

Rutelli, a former mayor of Rome, said discussions will be
held to explore the possibility of changing Rome's date so it
conflicts less with Venice, which runs through September 9.
Rome kicks off October 13.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter