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Woody Allen to open Venice film fest Aug. 27 with his new film Anything Else

Updated at 14:52 on July 31, 2003, EST.

  Woody Allen is shown in this file photo. (AP/Sandro Pace, File) Woody Allen is shown in this file photo. (AP/Sandro Pace, File)
ROME (AP) - Woody Allen, inspired by his love for the city of Venice, will open the 60th Venice Film Festival on Aug. 27 with the world premiere of his new film Anything Else, festival organizers said Thursday.

Allen "will be there. He loves Venice," Moritz de Hadeln, director of the festival which runs through Sept. 6, told a news conference in Rome. But like many of the other notable films to be shown at the festival, Anything Else, which stars Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci alongside Allen himself, will not be competing for the prestigious Golden Lion prize.

The festival includes two main competitions: Venezia 60, in which 20 films will battle for the Golden Lion, and Countercurrent, a competition for films considered more alternative, with 18 entrants.

Among those vying for the Golden Lion are Pornography, a Polish film about a group of resistance fighters during the Second World War and a lone U.S. contestant, 21 Grams by Alejandro Gonzles Inarritu, which stars Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts.

The Countercurrent competition will include Lost in Translation, directed by Sofia Coppola - daughter of Francis Ford Coppola - and filmed in Japan, as well as the first Turkish Cypriot and Bhutan films to be shown in Venice: Camur (Fango), and Travellers and Magicians, which was produced by a Buddhist monk.

High-profile films not competing for prizes are Robert Benton's The Human Stain, starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, and Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico, with a glittering cast that includes Antonio Banderas, Selma Hayek and Johnny Depp.

Director Ridley Scott will not be in Venice to present his film Matchstick Men, another film to be shown outside the competitions. The film stars Nicholas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman, and will be presented by Cage at the festival, de Hadeln said.

De Hadeln, who ran the Berlin Film Festival for two decades before taking over in Venice last year, gave this explanation for the reluctance of American films to enter film festivals: They are scared "of entering a competition, of losing face . . . or perhaps they are frightened they might damage their chances of winning an Oscar."

De Hadeln said it had been a particularly difficult and rushed job to select participants this year, with near 1,600 applications, many arriving earlier this month.

Among these was Intolerable Cruelty directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton and Geoffrey Rush, which was entered as a "work in progress," de Hadeln said.

The festival will pay homage to Katharine Hepburn, who died June 30, by showing a restored copy of the 1955 movie Summertime.

In the movie, directed by David Lean and set in Venice, Hepburn plays a lonely American woman who falls in love with an Italian, played by Rossano Brazzi.

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On the Web:

Official film festival site: labiennale.org/en/cinema/

Films in competition at the 60th Venice Film Festival from Aug. 27-Sept. 6. Official translations are provided of titles when available.

For the Golden Lion:

Buongiorno, notte, by Marco Bellocchio, Italy

Segreti di Stato, by Paolo Benvenuti, Italy

Le cerf-volant, by Randa Chahal Sabbag, France-Libya

Raja, by Jacques Doillon, France-Morocco

Twentynine Palms, by Bruno Dumont, France-Germany

Alila, by Amos Gitai, Israel-France

21 Grams, by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, United States

Imagining Argentina, by Christopher Hampton, Argentina-Spain-Britain

Baram-Nan Gajok (A Good Lawyer's Wife), by Im Sangsoo, South Korea

Sjaj u Ocima, (Loving Glances), by Srdjan Karanovic, Serbia-Montenegro

Zatoichi, by Takeshi Kitano, Japan

Pornografia, (Pornography), by Jan Jakob Kolski, Poland-France

Floating Landscape, by Carol Lai Miu Suet, Hong Kong-France-China

Les sentiments, by Noemie Lvovsky, France

Un filme falado, (A Talking Picture), by Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal-France-Italy

Rosenstrasse, by Margarethe von Trotta; Germany-The Netherlands

Ru San, (Goodbye Dragon Inn), by Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan.

Il Miracolo, Edoardo Winspeare, Italy.

Code 46, Michael Winterbottom, Britain.

Vosvrascenie, (The Return), by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia.

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Countercurrent competition:

Le soleil assassine, by Abdelkrim Bahloul, France-Belgium

Il ritorno di Cagliostro, by Daniele Cipri and Franco Maresco, Italy

Lost in Translation, by Sofia Coppola, United States

Abar Arannye, (In the Forest ... Again), by Goutam Ghose, India

Abjad, (La prima lettera), by Abolfazl Jalili, Iran-France-Italy

Antenna, by Kumakiri Kazuyoshi, Japan

De Fem Benspaend, (The Five Obstructions), by Jorgen Leth and Lars von Trier, Denmark

Travellers and Magicians, by Khyentse Norbu, Bhutan

Pitons (The Python), by Laila Pakalnina, Lithuania

Silence Between Two Thoughts, by Babak Payami, Iran

Last Life in the Universe, by Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand-United States

La quimera de los heroes, by Daniel Rosenfeld, Argentina-France

Une place parmi les vivants, by Raoul Ruiz, France

Vodka Lemon, by Hiner Saleem, France-Italy

Casa de los Babys, by John Sayles, United States-Mexico

Schultze Gets the Blues, by Michael Schorr, Germany

Liberi, by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli, Italy

Camur, (Fango), by Dervis Zaim, Italy-Cyprus-Turkey

© The Canadian Press, 2003


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