Venice festival ends, U.S., Korea films vie for award

Fri Sep 7, 2012 7:35pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - The Venice film festival ends on Saturday with an awards ceremony where favorites for the top prize, the Golden Lion, include Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology story "The Master" and Korean director Kim Ki-duk's ultra-violent "Pieta".

They are among 18 films in the main competition eligible for the lion and other acting and directing prizes, and festival juries are notoriously hard to second guess.

"Collateral" director Michael Mann is president of this year's panel at the world's oldest film festival, and must decide between entries from across the globe that cover themes of religion, violence, betrayal, vengeance, love and greed.

The glitzy awards ceremony, after which the out-of-competition closing movie "L'Homme qui rit" will screen, brings the curtain down on 11 days of films, interviews, photoshoots and parties on the Lido waterfront.

Critics generally agree that incoming director Alberto Barbera's selection has been solid, but the international media has bemoaned the lack of A-list stars on the red carpet which has taken much of the buzz away from this year's festival.

"Despite falling audiences due to the economic crisis, a not always glamorous red carpet and grey sky, it held its own with a lineup that may not have been impressive but was still pretty good," said La Stampa film critic Alessandra Levantesi Kezich.

Barbera has his work cut out to preserve Venice's place as one of the world's top three film festivals, with the bigger and cheaper rival event in Toronto threatening to overshadow it.

Dozens of movies also screened out of competition, including opening film "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", serial killer drama "The Iceman" and Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep".   Continued...

Director Francesca Comencini poses during the photocall of the movie "Un giorno speciale" at the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile