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Venice Fest in Full Swing

Out of competition films: Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children, Tsui Harks Seven Swords (Qi jian), the opening film , and The Art of Love, Mine Ha Ha by John Irvin set the Venezia 62 in motion August 31. Tsui Hark explained why he has made another martial arts film. Because ‘the stories are still compelling’. Seven Swords is concerned with the origins of martial arts in 1600 China when peasants wanted to defend themselves from rogue bandits. Both Charlie Young and Honglei Sun evoke the strongest performances, Young as the peasant woman, Wu Yuan Yin as and Sun ‘Firewind’, the masterful archenemy. Most of the scenes are shot on a studio with sepia hues, with martial arts sequences magnificently choreographed by Wei Tung and Xin Xin Xiong.

George Clooney’s international debut Goodnight and Good Luck was met with enthusiasm, about the legendary television journalist Ed Murrow who was instrumental in targeting the ‘junior senator’ Joe McCarthy who manufactured the witchhunt for 'commies' in the 1950’s. Clooney said that Murrow’s ideas about diligent journalism were respected while he was growing up and admired by his father who worked in televsion. David Strathairn who plays Murrow said he was ”trying to absorb the man he was” with archival footage and by talking to Ed Murrow’s son. The film is slated for the New York Film Festival , September 23 and will probably become an Oscar nominee like Sideways and Mystic River presented in past festivals. Generally the dramatic development woven with archival footage is excellent.

Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children directed by Tetsuya Nomura was made to satisfy fans who wanted more after the video games. A preview was shown last year at Venice so the director was happy to bring the completed film here. The story by Kazushige includes voices by Takahiro Sakurai (Cloud) and Ayumi Ito (Tifa). The film will go pretty quickly to DVD in Japan where it is being theatrically released almost immediately, and is slated for release in the US around November 29th. The story is about the inhabitants of a future generation who have acquired an immune deficiency that it threatening their survival. Cloud and Tifa battle with several colorfully inventive characters to stop the escalation.

John Irvin's new film The Fine Art of Love-Mine Haha (The Grooming ), is about a group of young female orphans and their teachers. Based on a novel by German novelist Frank Wedekind (Mine-Haha or Physical Education of Young Girls) the film is about a malicious matriarchal boarding school at the turn of the 20th century. Jacqueline Bisset is ‘the nasty and evil head mistress ’, - magnificent in the role, as are all the actresses in the film, including Mary Nighy and Hannah Taylor Gordon. The art direction is the result of Dante Ferretti, president of the international selection for the Golden Lion.

Eight renowned directors were given creative rein to make a short film about the unspoken stories of children in their countries in All the Invisible Children by Mehdi Charef, Emir Kusturica, Spike Lee, Kátia Lund, Jordan Scott, Ridley Scott, Stefano Veneruso, John Woo. The compilation effort is a format previously successfully screened at Venice 61 -- September 11. The repertoire of this new ensemble tells the stories of children or orphans, incarcerated youth, little soldiers or who are HIV.

Moira Sullivan, Nordic Correspondent


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