Pitt, Clooney open Venice with Coen bros' satire

Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:20pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - Brad Pitt and George Clooney hit the red carpet on Wednesday with their latest movie "Burn After Reading," a satirical comedy by Oscar winners the Coen brothers which opens this year's Venice film festival.

The actors will bring A-list star power to the 11-day event which features everything from obscure Asian art house cinema to Hollywood heavyweights.

Although there are five U.S. films in the main competition lineup of 21, they all represent lower-budget, "independent" cinema as opposed to the big studios, which are not in Venice this time around.

Festival director Marco Mueller brushed aside concerns that Venice, which faces stiff competition from the Toronto film festival starting next month and the Rome film festival in October, was struggling to secure top titles and talent.

Mueller, who with his team saw around 3,000 films which were whittled down to 55 in the official selection, said the lighter Hollywood studio presence was partly down to the 14-week writers' strike that ended in February.

"We have five American films in competition and most of those films are films with stars, so in a way the strike only meant that some of the bigger studio films will only be released late December or January," he told Reuters.

"But American cinema is very much at the centre of the program."


<p>Staff prepares the red carpet in front of the Cinema Palace in Venice August 26, 2008. The 65th Venice Film Festival will take place from August 27 to September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>