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Scene, Sunday, August 26, 2007

Venice is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe throughout the year. But starting this week, the northern Italian city is center stage for filmmakers and film enthusiasts.

The 64th Venice Film Festival opens Wednesday and runs through Sept. 8, with a series of world premieres. Producers, directors and the stars of the movies are likely to attend, but it’s also possible for members of the general public to watch some movies — provided they have some money, stamina and luck.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the festival, which claims the title as oldest in the world. It hasn’t been held every year due to wars and other events.

Most of the films entered in this year’s competition are entrants from American or British filmmakers. That includes the opening film, Joe Wright’s “Atonement,” which stars James McAvoy, Keira Knightley and Vanessa Redgrave.

Other entries include:

• Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” featuring Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody

• Kenneth Branagh’s “Sleuth,” starring Michael Caine and Jude Law

• Brian De Palm’s “Redacted”

• Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” featuring Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck and Sam Shepard

• Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton,” starring George Clooney, Tilda Swanton and Sydney Pollack

• Peter Greenway’s “Nightwatching”

• Paul Haggis’ “In the Valley of Elah,” featuring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon

Other entries include “Heya fawda” from Egypt, “Nessuna qualita agli eroi” from Italy and “En la Ciudad de Sylvia” from Spain.

A seven-member panel will award the Golden Lion to the top film and Silver Lion to the top director.

But there are dozens of other movies showing out of competition, some making their debuts. They include: Woody Allen’s “Cassandra’s Dream,” featuring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor; “The Hunting Party,” starring Richard Gere; and “The Nanny Diaries,” featuring Scarlett Johansson and Laura Linney.

The festival will also pay homage to Westerns, with more than 30 Italian “Spaghetti Westerns” scheduled to play. John Ford’s 1924 silent classic “The Iron Horse” and five movies from the 1950s directed by Budd Boettinger and starring Randolph Scott will also be shown.

American director Tim Burton, who has had a few of his movies premiere at the festival over the years, will be honored Sept. 5 with a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.

Another acclaimed director, Ridley Scott, will debut a re-tooled version of “Bladerunner,” the 1982 science fiction film starring Harrison Ford, at midnight on Sept. 1.

Even those who can’t get tickets might be able to catch a glimpse of a star or an upcoming film at a movie village set up along Venice’s Lido, where most of the festival takes place.

Specific timetables for most screenings should be listed on the Internet at, a good source for all sorts of information about the festival.

What to Know

n Two venues on Venice’s Lido are open to the public and will show films daily. Three other venues have restricted access. All visitors have to be 18 or older. Bags can be checked, but not carried into the venues.

n The Sala Grande seats 1,100 people. The daily schedule features showings at 11 a.m. (10 euros), 3 p.m. (10 euros), 5 p.m. (15 euros), 7:30 p.m. (40 euros), 10 p.m. (28 euros) and midnight (15 euros).

n PalaBiennale has 1,700 seats. Films will be shown at 1, 3 and 5 (all 8 euros), with double features scheduled at 8:30 p.m. (16 euros) and the last show at 11 p.m. (10 euros).

n Passes good for watching movies at specific times each day are also available, ranging from 150 to 1,200 euros.

n Tickets, if available, can be purchased at the Piazzale del Casino and Palabinnale along the Lido from 8 a.m. to noon or in Venice at the Palazzio Querini Dubois from 8-1:30 and 3:30-6. Requests can be made via fax at 041-2726623. For more information, call 041-2726674 between 10-1 and 3-6.

n A water bus service is scheduled to depart in front of Venice’s main train station, ferrying passengers to the festival area every 20 minutes from 4:40 p.m. to midnight. Other lines, including the 1, 51, 52, 61 and 82 will take passengers to the Lido-Piazzale Maria Elisabetta stop, where they can walk or take a bus the rest of the way.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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