The 66th Venice International Film Festival (VIFF) opens today with Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore's BAARIA, hyped as a Sicilian drama that includes Fascism, World War Two and Communism. Tornatore won an Oscar® for CINEMA PARADISO. The festival on the Lido waterfront runs through the 12th.
Because Italian movies have tended to disappoint in the past three years, and film festival attendance is down in general, festival director Marco Mueller is leaning more heavily on American movies that have stars and directors with international reputations.
Expected to walk the red carpet during the festival are Nicolas Cage, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Tom Ford, Richard Gere, Werner Herzog, John Lasseter, Julianne Moore, Michael Moore, Viggo Mortensen, Eva Mendes, Omar Sharif, Todd Solondz, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone, Charlize Theron, and others.
George Clooney, who has a home in Italy and is a local favorite, appears in the oddly titled movie, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, directed by Grant Heslov, along with Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. The movie is about a reporter, a U.S. military unit in Iraq and the paranormal. The movie is not in competition. Neither are John Lasseter's TOY STORY, 3-D, and TOY STORY 2, 3-D.
Oliver Stone brings SOUTH OF THE BORDER about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Tom Ford makes his feature debut with A SINGLE MAN, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, about fashion. Stallone is there to receive a special award.
Nicolas Cage appears in Werner Herzog's BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, a remake of the 1992 movie directed by Abel Ferrara, which may break the record for movies with long titles. Mortensen, Theron and Robert Duvall star in THE ROAD.
Venice has always had a global reach and this year is no exception. Who better to represent that than Omar Sharif in Egypt's THE TRAVELER. China, Austria, Israel, Japan, France, Hong Kong and Germany all have films representing their country.