The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Venice heat & dust

Venice, Aug. 26 (Reuters): Hollywood’s hottest stars may hog the red carpet when Venice kicks off its 60th film festival tomorrow, but sex and controversy could steal the show, according to the director of the competition.

“There’s a strong theme which I wouldn’t like to mention too much, which is sex. There are a lot of very explicit statements or scenes,” veteran festival director Moritz de Hadeln confessed during an interview overlooking the Lido’s long stretch of beach.

“But everything is justified, providing it has the artistic quality,” he quickly added.

A series of tough films tackling religion and relations in West Asia will fuel debate.

The world’s oldest cinema competition will start off on a light note with Woody Allen’s new comedy Anything Else. Allen, a long-time visitor to the lagoon city, will put in his first appearance at Venice’s festival.

But laughs could soon turn to gasps when the curtain goes up on Bernardo Bertolucci’s new erotic feature The Dreamers, a story about sexual awakening in France in 1968. With its young protagonists and suggestive poster, critics are already comparing it to his steamy 1972 film Last Tango in Paris.

“There is already the beginning of controversy over the Bertolucci film,” de Hadeln said, standing on the balcony of the Art Deco theatre where more than 140 films will be screened before September 6. Twenty of them will vie for the coveted Golden Lion award.

French director Bruno Dumont could up the shock factor with his latest film Twentynine Palms about a “primitive” love affair in the Californian desert. His previous L’Humanite began with a shot of an 11-year-old murder and rape victim.

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