The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Venice fest

Venice, Aug. 25 (Reuters): Workers hammered the final nails into a wave-like walkway and hotels put in last-minute orders for champagne as the lagoon city of Venice prepared for its 60th Film Festival starting on Wednesday.

Hollywood royalty like Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were set to tread the red carpet that runs from the five-star Excelsior hotel on the shores of the Lido to its traditional Art Deco cinema.

Twenty feature films will vie for the coveted Golden Lion top prize to be awarded on September 6 and another 18 will face off in the more experimental “upstream” section. A total of more than 140 movies, many of them world premieres, will be screened.

“Never before has the festival received so many film offers to evaluate,” Moritz de Hadeln, director of the Venice competition for the second year running, said of the line-up.

The show will kick off with Woody Allen’s new comedy Anything Else.

The Manhattan-set film, starring Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs, has been kept under wraps but according to media reports Allen hands over his traditional leading man role to Biggs — who is better known as the star of teen flick American Pie.

Melody men

Rabat (Reuters): An orchestra in which young Israeli and Palestinian musicians play side-by-side gave a concert in the Moroccan capital on Sunday, its first performance in an Arab country. Security was tight as Moroccan government ministers, members of the diplomatic community and a sprinkling of tourists came to hear the orchestra, which is led by conductor Daniel Barenboim, an Argentine-born Israeli citizen. Most of the capital’s population was oblivious of the event. A 32-year-old teacher, asking to be named only as Driss, said he had heard about the concert on the television news.

Picky panda

Tokyo (Reuters): Japan’s ageing stud panda has failed in his latest attempt to impregnate two female pandas in Mexico, but zoo keepers are pinning their hopes on a romantic rendezvous in Tokyo later this year. Beijing-born Ling Ling’s sperm was used to artificially inseminate two female pandas during his third visit to Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City earlier this year, after their efforts at reproduction the conventional way bore no fruit. But neither 15-year-old Xin Xin nor 12-year-old Shuan Shuan are expecting the patter of tiny paws, Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo said in a statement on Monday. One of the two lady bears will be invited to Tokyo to get intimate with Ling Ling later in the year.

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