Controversial Sept. 11 movie opens to applause at Venice festival
VENICE, Italy (AP) - A controversial film on the Sept. 11 attacks was received enthusiastically at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday, with media and film-industry viewers giving the longest applause to a segment considered among the most hostile to the United States, a report said.
The French-backed film ''11'09''01'' consists of short films by 11 international directors. The movie - which includes segments directed by Sean Penn, Ken Loach and Mira Nair - has been accused of being anti-American, although the producers say it is only an exploration of a tragedy.
At Thursday's screening, audience members applauded after each segment and at the end of the 135-minute film, the ANSA news agency reported.
ANSA said the longest applause was for British filmmaker Loach's segment, which features an exiled Chilean living in Britain who writes a letter to the families of the Sept. 11 victims, drawing their attention to the fact that in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, a U.S.-supported coup d'etat ushered in an era of torture and death.
Another controversial segment is by Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, who attacks U.S. foreign policy and features the ghost of a handsome U.S. Marine killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon in 1983. Chahine lectures the dead Marine on the destruction that U.S. meddling in the world has wrought - from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the current Middle East conflict. The ghost is grateful for being enlightened.
The film will also be shown at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 11. It opens in France and a dozen other countries on that date. Discussions have been under way with potential U.S. distributors.
Other films drawing attention Thursday included ``Dolls,'' by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, and Polish director Agnieszka Holland's ``Julie Walking Home,'' both of which are among the 21 movies in competition for a Golden Lion award in the main Venice 59 section.
Meanwhile, classic Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni was at the festival Thursday for a celebration of his life's work and a special screening of his 1960 film ``L'avventura.'' The 89-year-old is best-known for such films as ``Blow Up'' (1966) and ``Zabriskie Point'' (1970).
The night before, many stars - including actresses Milla Jovovich, Julie Delpy, and Elizabeth Berkeley - showed up for an AIDS research fundraiser on the sidelines of the festival. The gala raised more than dlrs 500,000 for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or AMFAR, officials said Thursday.
The festival began Aug. 29 and ends Sunday, when a jury hands out awards in the main Venice 59 section. A different jury will award prizes in the Upstream section for less mainstream movies.