Clooney film favourite for Venice Golden Lion award

Critics and public at the Venice film festival have made the George Clooney directed Good Night, and Good Luck the clear favourite to win the two-week event’s prestigious Golden Lion award, to be announced on Saturday.

With just a few of the 20 films in the official competition yet to be screened, Clooney’s film remains the most popular with critics and public alike according to the special daily edition of the Italian cinema magazine Ciak.

But other big American productions such as Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and John Turturro’s musical Romance and Cigarettes have been overshadowed by films from Portugal and Korea.

Espelho Magico (Magic Mirror)—a tale of a woman’s obsession with the Virgin Mary—by 96-year-old Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira is second favourite in the magazine’s ongoing poll of a panel of critics and members of the public.

Another dark horse for the festival’s top prize is Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s original and strikingly shot Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, a tale of revenge and redemption starring actress Lee Young-ae.

But China has mounted a late challenge with Stanley Kwan’s Everlasting Regret which premieres here on Thursday.

Everlasting Regret follows a beauty queen, played by Sammi Cheng, through four decades of upheaval in China, reflected in the changes in her beloved Shanghai—a centre of art, literature and style in the 1930s buffeted by the changes brought about by communism and the cultural revolution.

The film is adapted from a novel by Wang Anyi, Changhen Ge, which was voted the most influential literary work of the 1990s in China.

No film in the official competition has been able to match the popularity of animation wizard Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, a delightful retelling of a 19th century Russian folk tale using 30cm high plasticene characters and the voices of such box-office draws as Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter.

French director Patrice Chereau’s Gabrielle, a chilling and stylish treatment of a Joseph Conrad short story, has also won a strong following in the official section.

Isabelle Huppert’s performance as a woman struggling to break free from a passionless marriage has put her among the front runners for the best actress award along with Gwyneth Paltrow as a psychologically disturbed woman coming to terms with the death of her father in the otherwise disappointing Proof, by United States director John Madden.

US actor David Strathairn, who captivated audiences with his coiled-spring portrayal of 1950s broadcaster Ed Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck, leads the running for the best actor award.

Forest Whitaker, who portrays another journalist in Abel Ferrara’s Mary, and James Galdolfini for Romance and Cigarettes are among the other frontrunners for the best actor prize. - AFP

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