Films flounder as Venice festival hits halfway

Mon Sep 1, 2008 6:33am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - Blame it on the Hollywood writers' strike, the weak economy, or just plain bad luck.

Whatever the reason, the 2008 Venice film festival has been described as one of the weakest in recent years, and, as it reaches the halfway stage on Monday, needs more hits to light up the main competition.

"What the festival has shown is that 2008 is simply a bad year for film," said Jay Weissberg of trade publication Variety.

"The overall impression here is one of disappointment and everybody is desperate for a really good film in competition."

The annual event on the picturesque Lido waterfront attracts the world's biggest movie stars and most accomplished film makers, and has earned a reputation for kicking off the awards season that culminates in the Oscars.

This year the stars have been thin on the ground and there has been little buzz about lead performances. More importantly, critics say, the movies on show have been generally poor.

Of the 21 films in the main competition that vie for the coveted Golden Lion at a prize ceremony on Saturday, two Japanese entries are in the running for the top award that has gone to an Asian director for the last three years.

Animation master Hayao Miyazaki's adaptation of the "The Little Mermaid" is the favorite so far, showing the 67-year-old has lost none of his energy and imagination.   Continued...

<p>(L to R) Italian actors Ezio Greggio, Francesca Neri, Silvio Orlando and Alba Rohrwacher, cast members of in competition movie "Il Papa di Giovanna" by Italian director Pupi Avati, pose on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival August 31, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>