Kaleem Aftab accesses the highs and lows of this year’s VENICE FILM FESTIVAL — and finds it wanting.
en days of glorious sunshine on the Lido. 23
films in competition and countless Hollywood
stars could not hide the fact that. under
dehutante festival director Marcus Miiller. \"enice is in peril. This _\c‘;tt"s Bicnnale opened with Stephen
Spielherg’s dreary 'l'lte 'Iermmul. Luckily. the lack of
drama in the film was eclipsed hy a hand of protestors who arrived at the screening dressed as pirates. raging at the llollywoodisation of the festival. Their main complaint was with the ntunher of hig Hollywood films heing shown ~ ('o/luterul. S/ie Hate Me. A S/mrk'.v 'Iii/e. l-‘I'IIt/ing Sever/(ind and limitv l’uir. to name hut a few. have all heen placed in the programme at the expense of more experimental art house fare.
The protestors even set tip their own film festival on the heach. which was endorsed hy actor/director Tim Rohhins (limiter/(led) and activist/writer Naomi Klein t'I'lte 'Iiike) who showed their films at both the main festival and the heach festival. These opening night shenanigans set the template for this year‘s event. where the drama off screen often hettered the fare on it.
Films started hours hehind schedule: the midnight screening of finding .\'erer/um/ started at 2.|5am with Harvey \\'einstein trying to calm down the audience hy stating that Quentin 'larantino (in town as curator of the Italian King oft/1e B's section of the Secret History of Italian ('inemu retrospective) and Johnny Depp. the film‘s star. were trying to work out the hest way to drown Miiller.
.\lore emharrassment was to follow when no seat could he found for .-\l Pacino. who wanted to see his own performance in Michael Radford's 'l'he .llere/mm (it'leniee. Twenty minutes after heing given a place to sit. Pacino prohahly wished he hadn't hothered.
By all accounts the standout lilm in competition was .\like Leigh‘s l'eru Drake. The jury — presided over hy .lohn Boorman and featuring Spike Lee. Scarlett Johansson and Helen Mirren — agreed with the audiences and media. awarding the tale of a 1950s ahortionist the coveted Golden Lion for Best Film. Imelda Staunton. mesmerising in the title role. also walked off with the hest actress award.
26 THE LIST Saw” Cu". £331
TWENTY MINUTES AFTER BEING FOUND A SEAT, PACINO PROBABLY WISHED HE HAD NOT BOTHERED
Javier Bardem. whose role as a man wanting to
commit suicide legall} itt .-\lc_iandro :\tnenahai”s .lltu‘
mlenlm. has prospective award winner written all over it. the jury duly ohligcd hy giving him the hest actor pri/e. l-‘ilmed with sumptuous hackdrops. it was also the most aesthetically pleasing film on show.
Korean director Kim ki-duk t'l'lie /.v/el took the hcst director award for his light-hearted comedy Hm .lip. .-\lso winning token awards were the Japanese animation lluum no Hen/vii v/Ii'l'o. llayao .\li_va/aki huilding on the success of S/u'rilet/ .stu'uv. And the ohligatory accolade to an Italian lilm went to (itlltlo (‘hiesa’s fascinating account of the Red Brigade and an infamous l‘)7()s pirate radio station. Rut/in .-t/iei /()().() .lI/IZ.
l'nlucky to miss out on gongs were l‘rancois ()/on for 5 .v 3 t('I'iI(/_/oir Dem). which tells in reverse the l’interesque story of a divorce. and .lonathan (ila/er‘s hattnting sophomore lilm [fir/Ii. the most controversial picture of the festival. featuring Nicole Kidman falling in love and sharing a hath with a ten—year-old hoy. (an: Lumiere. llou llsiao-llsien's heautiful trihute to Japanese Legend ()/u. was the one to watch for those who like their movies. serene and understated. And Todd Solond/ once again came up with the goods with the fantastically surreal tale of ahortion and identity crisis. l’u/im/rmnev. Among the disappointments were .\lira \air‘s limirv I-ku’r and (‘laire Denis. l.‘lnlru.v.
Out of competition. (iregg .-\raki‘s ga_v drama .llys'leriouv Skin and Han Duran (‘ohen's l.e.v l’elits I’i/s were hoth superh. Other highlights included Laura Linney’s performance in [)ylan Kidd‘s I’S: Mark S Wesler’s documentary on dad llaskell \Vevler 'm/ The”) Who You Are. Takeshi .\liike's film ahout ‘)/ll 1m and lirederick l-‘onteyne's /.e.v l'emmev (/e (ill/es.
()n the whole though. the movies on show were as lackltistre as the Italian organisation. .\liiller has promised that next year the festival will he more streamlined. and hopefully his choice of films will he less Hollywoodcentric.
Kaleem Aftab’s authorised biography of Spike Lee is out in April 2005 (Faber and Faber).
YEAH, WE KNOW MOST OF
you would rather boil your extremities in oil than go to a cinema Open Day but check out what Filmhouse in Edinburgh has planned for you on Saturday 25 September. The programme of events includes projection box tours. with added souvenirs for children. Also SKAMM (Scottish Kids Are Making Movies) will give a presentation about the movie making process from script to screen. Plus there‘s a Q&A session with the programmers. short film screenings. refreshments from the Secret Cinema den and a chance to look at the proposals for the Sean Connery Filmhouse. It's open 10am—2pm and is free. Movie loving kids and adults have never had it so good.
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AS PART OF THE
Storytelling Festival, the Filmhouse is showing Is Mise an Teanga (I am the Tongue). a living portrait of Gaelic and its contemporary poets in Scotland and Ireland. Saturday 23 October at 1pm. Bookings 0131 228 2688.
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Filmhouse Cinema One