Venice credits roll, U.S., Korean films in awards race

Fri Sep 7, 2012 8:43am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - The credits are about to roll on this year's Venice film festival, and the world's oldest cinema showcase pits Hollywood's finest against up-and-coming American talent and movies by directors from South Korea, France and beyond.

The 11-day stretch of screenings, parties and interviews on the Lido waterfront ends on Saturday with the awards ceremony where the Golden Lion for best picture is handed out.

The prize is one of European cinema's most prestigious and can help a small-budget movie not in English find an audience in the West.

It also puts smaller U.S. productions in the awards frame at the start of the journey to the Oscars, most notably "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005 and "The Wrestler" three years later.

This year's frontrunners for jury president Michael Mann to pick from include the ultra-violent Korean film "Pieta", Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology story "The Master" and French 1970s drama "Apres Mai".

Italy has a reasonable chance of a first home win in Venice since 1998 with "Bella Addormentata" (Sleeping Beauty), the well-received account of Eluana Englaro, center of a 2009 right-to-die case that deeply divided opinion in the Catholic country.

And "wild card" possibilities include Russian adultery tale "Betrayal" and raunchy American teen romp "Spring Breakers", which features former Disney starlet Selena Gomez and Oscar-nominated James Franco as an over-the-top gangster rapper.

The world's oldest film festival, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, has been seen as a low-key edition with too few stars to generate the kind of media buzz it thrives on.   Continued...

Directors Jessica Woodworth (L), Peter Brosen and actress Aurelia Poirier (R) pose on the red carpet during a screening for the movie "La cinquieme Saison" at the 69th Venice Film Festival September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile