Death in Venice as films set in Iran, Greece impress

Sat Sep 3, 2011 11:46am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - A love story set in 1950s Iran and a disturbing Greek tale of a group who takes on the role of the recently deceased to ease relatives' grief have their world premieres at the Venice film festival Saturday.

"Chicken With Plums" is co-directed by Iranian-born Marjane Satrapi, a French graphic novelist best known for her comic strip film "Persepolis."

"Alps" is the follow-up to Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos' critical hit "Dogtooth," and while it a Venice audience scratching its head at times, some critics gave it the thumbs up.

Starring French actor Mathieu Amalric as a famous Iranian violinist who loses the will to live after his instrument is broken, Chicken With Plums blends live action, animation and painted sets.

As he lives out his last eight days in his Tehran bedroom, Nasser Ali reminisces about life's ups and downs, taking the mood abruptly from light and comic to dark and tragic.

"It is nihilistic because life is nihilistic," said Satrapi of the movie's more somber moments.

"If we are looking for a little note of hope then we cannot find it in the movie because there is no note of hope in life ... we are all going to die.

"I always remember the movies when the end is not so nice," she told reporters after a press screening where the movie received warm applause.   Continued...