Venice festival chief Alberto Barbera yesterday moved to play down suggestions of difficult relations between the three major festivals Cannes, Berlin and Venice.

'I have great respect and excellent relations with [Cannes president] Gilles Jacob based on mutual respect,' said Barbera. 'I don't think that the natural competition between festivals should become warfare.'

Barbera said that he has written to the Cannes supremo to dissociate himself from suggestions of clashes between the festivals over issues of film selection. His move came in response to published remarks made by Berlin's incoming chief selector Dieter Kosslick, which suggested that this year's Cannes festival had selected films which Venice had already invited.

'I saw some films that were also offered to Cannes. I did not honestly expect Cannes to renounce them just because I liked them. That's the business and I accept it with good grace.'

Barbera, who last week announced that the festival will run two separate competitive sections, kept tight-lipped about this year's selection.