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New York's flavours at Venice

The Venice film festival gets underway with a New York flavour with the world premiere of Woody Allen's Anything Else.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2003 18:52 IST

The Venice film festival gets underway on Wednesday with the world premiere of Woody Allen's

Anything Else

giving the 60th

Mostra

a real New York flavour ahead of a heavily European-oriented main programme.

Stars lining up for a photo opportunity on the famous canals during the festival, which runs until September 6, include George Clooney, Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Antonio Banderas, Glenn Close and Catherine Deneuve, Nicholas Cage and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Anything Else opens the latest instalment of the world's oldest film festival and festival director Moritz de Hadeln believes it will set the tone for the 143-film event.

"Opening this 60th Mostra with a laugh seems to me the best way to start," de Hadeln said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera at the weekend.

Allen recently described the film as being about "life, love and New York" and the British-born festival director believes its themes of love and betrayal, sex, the family, art and politics runs the gamut of what to expect from the rest of the festival.

Clooney stars in the Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty, while Kidman and Hopkins co-star in Robert Benton's The Human Stain.

Along with De Hadeln's favourite, The Dreamers - Bernardo Bertolucci's tale of sex, cinema and the 1968 riots in Paris -- these and other crowd-pullers are being shown out of competition.

Hollywood appears to have been given the heave-ho, with this year's festival heavily weighed towards European output.

20 films are entered in the competition for the Golden Lion award including works by 94-year-old Portuguese director and three former Venice laureates; Japan's Takeshi Kitano, Taiwan's Tsai Ming-liang and Germany's Margarethe von Trotta.

French cinema is represented with three films including the world premier of Bruno Dumont's 29 Palms, bound to pick up headlines for its sex scenes if nothing else.

Only one American film will be seen in competition; 21 Grams by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, which stars Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts.

Plenty of other big names, besides Woody Allen, will have their works screened outside the competition including Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men, and The Divorce directed by James Ivory.

The Controcorrente ("Upstream") prize candidates, for films of "innovative intent, creative originality or alternative cinematographic languages," include Buddhist Lama Khyentse Norbu, Algerian Abdelkrim Bahloul, Cypriot Dervi Zaim and Iranians Abolfazi Jalili and Babak Payami.

Two Lions d'or have already been decided, with lifetime achievement awards to go to Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis and Egyptian actor Omar Sharif.