Venice film festival opens and gambles on youth

Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:11pm EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - The Venice film festival opens on Wednesday with "Black Swan," starring Natalie Portman as a ballet dancer in New York whose position is threatened when a beautiful newcomer arrives.

The thriller, directed by Darren Aronofsky, officially kicks off the annual celebration of cinema on the Lido waterfront where stars, fans and reporters rub shoulders for 11 days.

Festival director Marco Mueller has opted for youth in his choice of directors of the 23 competition films, and he will also hope that the presence of Hollywood mavericks can make up for the expected shortage of A-list celebrities this year.

Jury president Quentin Tarantino, who must ultimately decide who walks away with the coveted Golden Lion award at the closing ceremony on September 11, said his time on the picturesque island would be more work than play.

"There's a lot of really exciting movies, exciting directors. It's a fantastic line-up," he told Reuters on arrival. "I'm keen with anticipation.

"I've been on a few juries and I love it. It's a joy to me. But it's work. We're not here for vacation."

Venice, the world's oldest film festival and one of its most prestigious, has long been looking over its shoulder at Canadian rival Toronto, with which it overlaps and which is seen as cheaper and more business-focused than the Italian event.

The competition has intensified, as many movies with world premieres in Venice hit Toronto just days later and others go straight to the Canadian festival.   Continued...

 
<p>Actress Jessica Alba (2nd R) arrives at the Excelsior Palace in Venice August 31, 2010. Alba will attend the screening of her movie "Machete" directed by Robert Rodriguez at the opening of 67th Venice Film Festival on September 1. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>