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by Peter Knegt
June 10, 2009 6:11 AM
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Tornatore's "Baaria" To Open Venice

Giuseppe Tornatore's Sicilian epic "Baaria" will become the first Italian film in twenty years to open the Venice Film Festival. It will open the festival's 66th edition on September 2nd with a gala screening, and will screen in competition.

Starring Monica Bellucci, Michele Placido, Raoul Bova, Luigi Lo Cascio, Laura Chiatti, Donatella Finocchiaro, and newcomers Francesco Scianna and Margareth Made, the partly autobiographical "Baaria" examines three generations of life in Tornatore's native Sicilian village of Bagheria. The film cost $30 million to produce, making it one of Italy's most expensive productions.

"'Baaria' is an ancient sound, a magic formula, a key," Tornatore said on the Venice Film Festival's website. "The only one capable of opening the rusty box in which the meaning of my most personal film is hidden. An amusing and wistful story, of great loves and irresistible utopian dreams. A legend thronged with heroes... But 'Baaria' is also the name of a Sicilian town where the people’s lives unfold along the main street. A few hundred metres, no more. But if you walk up and down it for years, you can learn what the whole world will never be able to teach you"

Tornatore's 1995 feature "The Star Maker" won a special jury prize at Venice in 1995, and in 1993, he was a member of the international jury. He also won the Bresson Prize of the Ente dello Spettacolo at the festival in 2000. "Baaria," produced and distributed by Medusa Film, will be released in Italian cinemas on September 25th. Summit International is handling international sales.

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