Workers Monday were adding finishing touches to the wavelike walkway leading up to the Art Deco theater--the site where 20 feature films will compete for the coveted Golden Lion. This year's entries include Robert Benton's The Human Stain, starring Kidman and Anthony Hopkins, and the Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty, headlining Zeta-Jones and George Clooney.
The festival will screen more than 140 films, many of which are world premieres, including Woody Allen's Anything Else. The pic, which stars Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs, has been kept closely under wraps. According to Reuters, Allen hands over the leading man role to Biggs here.
In the film, Allen plays a struggling and insecure artist in New York having an affair with a self-centered, younger woman played by Ricci. When her boyfriend (Biggs) finds out about the affair, he confronts the older man--as does her father, who chases the artist with a loaded shotgun.
Director Martin Scorsese, meanwhile, is set to present audiences with his series of documentary films titled The Blues. Matchstick Men, the Ridley Scott drama starring Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell, will also screen out of competition at the festival.
The festival also acquired a string of new films from celebrated filmmakers such as British director Peter Greenaway's The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers and Mexican helmer Alejandro Gonzalez's 21 Grams, starring Penn and Benicio Del Toro.
Two Iranian films likely to be shrouded in controversy include an entry from a 14-year-old female director and a film about a Taliban soldier ordered to kill a woman. Israeli director Amos Gitai is also slated to present his latest film.
The Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 27 through Sept. 6.