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Venice snubs Indian cinema

After Cannes comes yet another major snub, says Saibal Chatterjee.

entertainment Updated: Aug 23, 2005 13:43 IST

After a widely lamented no-show in Cannes earlier this year, Indian cinema has received yet another major snub, this time around from the world's oldest international film festival.

Not a single Indian entry has made it to the official selection of the 62nd Venice International Film Festival, which will run from August 31 to September 10. If that's any consolation, Chinese master Zhang Yimou's latest film, Qian Li Zou Dan Ji, too, has failed to make the cut.

The Venice Film Festival will screen 54 full-length feature films, 17 less than it did last year. The drop in the number of films is attributed to heightened security concerns all across Europe. Fewer shows will allow security personnel more time to disinfect the screening theatres.

In contrast to the complete blank drawn by India, several major Asian filmmaking nations will be more than amply represented in Venice this year. In fact, two films from Hong Kong, a movie production centre with which Bollywood is often rather presumptuously equated, will open and close the high-profile festival.

Tsui Hark's sweeping martial arts epic, Seven Swords, which was commercially unveiled across China in late July, will be the opening night film of the 62nd Venice International Film Festival. A runaway box office hit in the domestic market, the film revolves around seven warriors who join forces to protect a village from an evil general.

Hong Kong will be the flavour of the closing night as well, with Peter Ho-sun Chan's musical Perhaps Love, as different a film from Seven Swords as a film can be, bringing the curtains down on the 11-day festival.

Another film from Hong Kong, Stanley Kwan's Everlasting Regret, will be vying with 18 other films for the coveted Golden Lion, a trophy won famously by Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding four years ago.

Celebrated Korean director Park Chan-wook's latest film, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, is also in the Venice competition line-up this year.

Two Chinese films, Li Yu's Hongyan (made in collaboration with France) and Ning Ying's Wu Qiong Dong, have found pride of place in the festival's Horizons section, a sidebar that seeks to capture the trends in contemporary world cinema.

In a section titled The Secret History of Asian Cinema, the festival proffers two retrospectives - one of 40 Japanese films made between 1926 and 1978, the other of 15 Chinese films made from 1934 to 1990.

The Venice Film Festival will bestow another special honour on Asian cinema by conferring the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement on Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's greatest master of animated movies.

Called "the Walt Disney of Japan", a sobriquet that he personally hates, Miyazaki is the first-ever maker of animation films to win the award. To this day, he does not allow more than ten per cent of a film to be computer generated.

The only subcontinental connection - a very tenuous one at that - at this year's Venice Film Festival will be in the form of a special screening of Kill Gil, a 100-minute documentary by legendary Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini's half Indian son, Gil Rossellini.

The film, which has been made with the active participation of Isabelle Rossellini, the neo-realist director's daughter from his affair with screen legend Ingrid Bergman, looks at the disease that sent Gil into a coma in late 2004 and has since strapped him to a wheelchair.