The 60th Venice International Film Festival kicked off in hot and humid weather on Wednesday night with a black tie opening ceremony attended by a sprinkling of stars, followed by the world premiere of Woody Allen's latest comedy, Anything Else.
Stars who sashayed up the giant wooden runway in the shape of a wave included Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci, the protagonists of Anything Else, hot Italian actor Stefano Accorsi - a member of the Venice 60 jury - and Salma Hayek, who, in a black dress and bright pink sash, happily greeted hundreds of fans lined up along the walkway.
Also attending the event were director Robert Rodriguez, in a black cowboy hat, James Ivory, Ismael Merchant and French director Claude Lelouch, whose wife Alessandra Martines presented the opening ceremony.
Woody Allen also attended the event, marking the first time he has accompanied one of his films to Venice.
"It's a night I'll always remember; very few people have an experience like this - it's amazing," a casually dressed Allen said as he entered the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido with his wife, Soon Yi.
"I'm usually not a festival person, but like the French, the Italians have always been so affectionate towards me. I've also been very influenced by Italian cinema - I've stolen from all the great Italian masters and have used their work shamelessly," Allen said on stage, after receiving a standing ovation.
Allen and other guests were privy to an opening 15 minute montage film of past editions of the festival, directed by Antonello Sarno and distributed by Medusa. The festival also screened tributes to this year's recipients of the Golden Lion Achievement Awards, Omar Sharif and Dino De Laurentiis.
Festival artistic director Moritz de Hadeln announced that De Laurentiis's award will be handed out on September 1st by Bernardo Bertolucci, whose out-of-competition film, The Dreamers, is one of the most anticipated titles of the festival.
Although he stood on stage, De Hadeln spoke little during the 70 minute ceremony, which was conducted in English, Italian and French.
"Whenever I open my mouth, (Biennale president) Franco Bernabe trembles," he said.
Allen himself did not remain for the well-received screening of his own film. "I've never watched any of my films. I just won't sit through them. I'll go to the party afterwards, though. I have nothing against those. I just don't like to be around my films when things fall apart at the end," Allen said.
He quipped: "I hope you like the film. If you don't, I'll try again next year to make a better film."