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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Venice Continues with Cinema Magic

The Italian journalists so far think that George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck is the best film in the international competition but the journalists don’t select the awards. Still, often what film critics think turns out to be right. Add to the list Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener , screened today at the fest, another strong contender for the Lion. The Venezia 62 international jury is composed of the Chinese scriptwriter and author Acheng, French filmmaker Claire Denis, Israeli director Amos Gitai, German director Edgar Reitz, the Italian film composer (raised in Iceland) Emiliana Torrini headed by jury president, and the Italian scenographer Nante Ferretti, who worked closely with Pier Paulo Pasolini. It will be interesting to find out what this jury selects for the Golden Lion on Saturday. Lasse Hallströms Casanova, set in Venice, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, a bold story well told about two married gay cowboys, and Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, featuring Monica Bellucci brought most of the journalists to the press conferences. But there are more than 360 films to see, which is why some Italian journalists would be quite happy if it were shorter. Nonetheless, an eclectic variety of films, many made by young directors with an artful blend of innovation and politics awaits the festivalgoer at Venice.


John Turturro has made a well-crafted film Romance and Cigarettes - the title comes from a line from his lead character Nick Murder played by James Gandolfini “all a man wants is a little romance and to smoke his brains out”. The director says the singing and dancing was done to add comic relief to the everyday life of working people, inspired by his upbringing in Queens NYC. The film form is innovative and flows, with lots of “dirty jokes” ( as Turturro calls them). Firemen and construction workers sing on sight along with their wives and lovers. Kate Winslet plays a Cockney fake redhead and hooker named Tula, Murder’s ‘flame’. Murder’s 'lover' (you have to appreciate that) threatens the home life with wife Kitty Kane ( Susan Sarandon) and three daughters Rosebud (Aida Turturro) Constance (Mary-Louise Parker) and Baby (Amanda Moore). Christopher Walken, Kumar Pallana, Eddie Lizard and Joe Buscemi fill in. Even Barbara Sukowa shows up too as does Nick’s mother Grace, played by Elaine Stritch.

Stanley Kwan’s period piece Everlasting Regret (Changhen Ge) on a former Miss Shanghai traces all the men in her life and all the disappointments that come with their betrayal. As beauty queen she enjoyed considerable currency yet was always abandoned. Kwan says the film is an homage to Old Shanghai before the political disturbances of 1949, based on the novel by Wang Anyi considered one of the best of the 1990’s.

Laurent Cantet has drawn from the material of Haitian radio journalist Dany Lafferriere to make Heading South (Vers du Sud )starring Charlotte Rampling. Exploring sexual currency in Haiti during Papa Doc Duvalier’s regime is the subject of this French production where middle aged white women come to Port au Prince for romance and sex in the 1970’s. Usually this involves shopping tours, meals and drinks, or offers to get passports for the young Haitian men.

Japanese and Chinese films in the “Secrets of Asian cinema” retrospective are screened in a room where you can easily find a seat and run from 9 am to 11pm each day. Examples are Zonglie tu ( The Valiant Ones, 1975) by King Hu and Wutai jiemei (Stage Sisters, 1965) by Xie Jin. Hu who left mainland China for Hongkong in 1949 and started his own studio in Taiwan was the first Chinese director to be awarded at Cannes for A Touch of Zen. Because of making Stage Sisters, Xie Jin was eventually imprisoned for being a “bourgeois humanist” during the early years of the Cultural Revolution.


Featured in the “Venice Days” section is Pasquale Scimeca’s The Passion of Joshua the Hebrew Italy 2005)- the story of a young Jew exiled from Spain with his people in 1492. Joshua is chosen to be in a Passion Play by the local priests because of his religious acumen and is later crucified.

In the “International Critics Week selection”, Asi by Jesus Mario Lozano (Mexico 2005). All the shots of the film are 32 seconds each and captured at 11.32 pm each night. The film diary is about a young man from Monterrey who works as an assistant to two street actors. This eventually becomes a threesome. Ivan (Roberto Garcia Suarez)thinks that Monterrey is boring and puts up with the demands of the two actors - for awhile.


Moira Sullivan


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Chatelin Bruno
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