The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Venice tilts from art to glitz

Venice, Aug. 28 (Reuters): Glamour will be the name of the game at the 59th Venice Film Festival, according to the event’s new director who says he wants to restore the glory of the world’s oldest movie fest.

Moritz de Hadeln, who headed the Berlin film festival for 22 years before taking the Venice helm, said today he hopes to bring out the stars and make the festival more appealing to a wider audience when it kicks off tomorrow.

While previous festivals focused more on small, art-house movies, this year the anxiously awaited Hollywood production Frida, starring sexy Salma Hayek as Mexican artist Frida Khalo, opens the main competition. A number of star-studded blockbusters and European and Asian submissions will follow.

“Media and cinema have evolved and I think today you can’t just sit around and talk about cinema. Film is also a business and an industry and stars and actors,” de Hadeln said, standing on a balcony overlooking the famous Lido beach which will soon be overrun by wide-eyed movie fans.

“How will this festival be different' I hope there will be a bit more glamour,” he confessed. “This year we have opened the doors to all types of films.”

According to de Hadeln, the Venice Film Festival lost much of its lustre on the global film stage due to its focus on auteur films and constant government meddling. But he hopes his appointment will be a break from this tradition.

De Hadeln, a Swiss citizen, was named just six short months before the start of the festival amid fierce political feuding that had many movie critics wondering if the show would go on.

With his years of industry experience and lack of obligations to Italian politicians, de Hadeln appears to have pulled off what he calls a miracle.

The line-up includes Road to Perdition, the latest from Oscar-winning British director Sam Mendes (American Beauty), with Hollywood legends Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven with Julianne Moore.

Sean Penn and John Malkovich will hit the red carpet along with Italy’s own Sophia Loren and French diva Catherine Deneuve.

“People want to come to Venice. Maybe they're not coming for the festival, maybe it's for the town, I don’t know but they like to come. That made it easy,” de Hadeln said.

A total of 21 films will vie for the coveted Golden Lion and 17 movies will face off in the “Upstream” competition with more experimental works in a festival that is sure to have a good dose of controversy.

Venice will air a collective film titled“11’09”01”, which consists of 11 separate submissions from directors including Penn, Ken Loach and Amos Gitai to commemorate the September 11 attacks on the US.

But with some stridently anti-American segments, it looks as if the French production may not find a US distributor.

De Hadeln said he was pleased with the line-up this year but doesn’t know if he'll be back at the lagoon city in 2003.

“Very much depends on the conditions. The festival is in urgent need of modernising, much of it organisational. But if the conditions are there and I'm asked, why not'”

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