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Merchant of Venice Cheered by Venice Film Festival

The out of competition film Michael Radford's Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare passed the test by Italian journalists who assembled at a press conference on day 4 of the Venice International Film Festival. Nearly all questions went to ---Al Pacino and enthusiasm about his performance may suggest an Oscar nod next year. Pacino who only understands a little Italian had on his headphones and fielded questions. He said that Radford was great in telling him how to take down the volume and revealed some of the subtleties in bringing Shakespeare to screen.

Lynne Colins who plays "Portia" and the 'young doctor' was excellent as "a live woman bound to the decisions of a dead father". True to the time, women are either sold in marriage or prostitutes. It is also the time where Jews must wear red caps to distinguish themselves and may only lend not own money. True to Shakespeare it is the story of a Jewish merchant who lends money to Antonio (Jeremy Irons) and demands its repayment in a pound of human flesh when his ships at sea are plundered by pirates.

It was politics at the conference press conference for "Working Slowly - Radio Alice" by Guido Chiesa. The film inspired a small manifestation for the plight of the temporary workers in Italy, a grievance previously aired at Cannes. The film is about the student movement radio set in Bologna 1976 with clear parallels to Genova and the manifestation against the G8 conference which resulted in the death of a young man. The aura of 1976 is skillfully recreated in special language, ideas, clothing, music and social issues. The film also seems to have the same color stock of films from 1976.

In a special "cinema digitale event" Tim Robbins was on hand to received a standing ovation for "Embedded/Live" about the invasion of “Gommorah” by a rogue state run by the “Butcher of Babylon”. Robbins wrote, acted and directed the piece for a live audience with insertion of video clips projected during the performance. One of the truths of the play/film is that in a democracy people need to be educated in order to make intelligent decisions. In several pieces, the play/film uses parody to present the way news was presented about Iraq interventions including reports on Jessica Lynch. As far as the use of digital, there was nothing revolutionary about Tim Robbins film.

Spectators to see "Howl's Moving Castle" by Hiyaso Miyasaki had to have their bags checked to prevent the risk of copying -- the only such demand at the festival so far. This film is the front winner among Italian critics to date at Venice.


Moira Sullivan

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Chatelin Bruno
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