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Organizers present slimmed down festival

The Associated Press
7/29/04 4:28 PM

ROME (AP) -- This year's Venice Film Festival has slimmed down.

Calling the 61st edition "a thinner and more nimble one," the festival's new head, Marco Muller, said he wanted to bring the biggest films of the year to Venice without feeling bound to a quota system.

"There is no need to look at a map and feel that you have to take films from all different parts of the world," he said.

Of the 71 films -- fewer than in recent years -- more come from the United States and Europe, fewer from Asia.

Muller, an Italian movie producer who previously headed smaller festivals in Italy and abroad, took over from Moritz de Haldeln of Switzerland earlier this year. De Haldeln had been in charge for two years, and was the first non-Italian ever to head the Venice festival.

This year's festival opens Sept. 1 -- with Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal" starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones -- and runs through Sept. 11.

Both Spielberg and Hanks will be in Venice to present the film, Muller said.

The festival will be split into several sections, with 21 films competing for the Golden Lion prize. In addition, there will be competitions for films from new directors, for films aimed at a young audience, and for digital films.

Among the films competing for the Golden Lion: Jonathan Glazer's "Birth" starring Nicole Kidman, Mira Nair's "Vanity Fair" with Reese Witherspoon, Alejandro Amenabar's "Mar Adentro" with Javier Bardem, and "Land of Plenty" by director Wim Wenders.

The jury for the Golden Lion will be headed by director John Boorman and include Spike Lee and "Lost in Translation" star Scarlett Johansson.

Besides "The Terminal," other movies being shown outside the competition include Lee's "She Hate Me" and Manoel de Oliveira's "O Quinto Imperio."

De Oliveira and "Singin' in the Rain" co-director Stanley Donen will receive lifetime achievement awards at the festival.


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