Aug. 30 - Final preparations are underway as Venice gets ready to host stars including George Clooney, Madonna, Al Pacino and Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth. John Russell reports.
Venice is preparing to roll out the red carpet for one of its most star-studded editions in recent years. Film makers from around the world will descend on the canal city from August 31 to September 10 to showcase their movies, and attend a whirlwind of photocalls, press conferences, interviews and parties. Ahead of the opening night, artistic director Marco Mueller is oozing confidence over his selection of films. SOUNDBITE Artistic director Marco Mueller saying (English): "It does really resemble the program we have wanted to put together from my first year eight years ago in the sense that it is a program that tells you how much support we get from the artists, the film-makers but also the producers and world sales, the international distributors and it proves that Venice really stands as a major platform to create a special kind of visibility." The 68th Venice film festival has put high costs and growing competition from Toronto aside and provided a line-up of hotly anticipated titles and Hollywood stars including Madonna and Roman Polanski. Blockbusters rarely feature, but a slot in Venice is coveted by lower-budget U.S. productions for the exposure it brings and because it acts as the unofficial launch of the annual awards season ending with the Oscars. George Clooney, a regular favorite at the world's oldest film festival is held, kicks off the glamorous 11-day event on Wednesday (August 31) with "The Ides of March", a political drama which he also directed. His cast includes Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman. John Russell, Reuters.