Hollywood in support role at Venice film festival

Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:49pm EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The Venice film festival opens on Wednesday with Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and Brad Pitt on the red carpet for the Coen brothers' eagerly awaited "Burn After Reading," but from then on Tinseltown takes a back seat.

Asia could win the Golden Lion for best film for the fourth year running with three Japanese entries in competition, including animator Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" which is already storming the box office at home.

Italy has four movies in the main line-up of 21 movies vying for prizes at the world's oldest film festival, which is prestigious in its own right and serves as an early springboard for Oscar glory.

"The official competition at the Venice film festival may be called 'Venezia 65', but ... it is just coming of age as a launching pad for Academy Award fare," award watcher Tom O'Neil wrote on Web site "Gold Derby" (goldderby.latimes.com).

"Burn After Reading" is not in competition, but reaction in Venice will indicate whether Joel and Ethan Coen can repeat their success of 2008 when "No Country For Old Men" won four Academy Awards including best picture and directing.

The black comedy follows two gym employees as they seek to sell a computer disc containing memoirs of a sacked CIA analyst, but events spiral out of their, and everyone else's control.

U.S. films in competition in Venice include "Rachel Getting Married," directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme and starring Anne Hathaway and three-time Academy Award nominee Debra Winger.

Kathryn Bigelow directs Iraq drama "The Hurt Locker," a year after Brian De Palma's "Redacted" stunned audiences in Venice with its brutal reconstruction of real-life events from the war.   Continued...

 
<p>Legendary Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni poses alongside a poster for his film "The Passenger" in Beverly Hills in this undated file photo. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello/Files</p>