The Venice Film Festival'straditionally late announcement of its line-up means that other festivals suchas Edinburgh, Montreal and especially neighbour Locarno have had to secondguess which films the powerful Venice event will select. This year the MarcoMueller effect may be adding to that conundrum.

Venice's Mueller appears to besuffering all the pains and pleasures of being the new kid on the block 'albeit one who seemingly has been waiting much of his professional life for thejob as artistic director he finally was finally drafted in for in April.

Like a sweet-toothed kid let loosein a candy store he has eyes on all the goodies ranged on the highest shelvesof artistic achievement as well as those attention-grabbing, star-drivensweeties from the lower tiers of easy consumption. He has bubbled withenthusiasm for so many films that were he to be able to select everything hisdebut year could represent one of the most memorable of recent years.

According to industry sources fromaround the globe Mueller has "shown interest in' "reserved'or made loosecommitments that fall short of absolute promises to an unusually large numberof films.

In Hong Kong recently, on thepenultimate leg of his Asian pre-selection tour, Mueller was heard to boastthat he had 15 American films in selection. Last week he was in Los Angeles forthe second time since his appointment, presumably to firm up his expandingselection of US titles.

His US list seems to include ToddSolondz'Palindromes (which Mueller'sassociates have let slip that it will receive its North American premiere inToronto, and therefore logically its world premiere in Venice), Michael Mann's Collateral (with Tom Cruise) and The Manchurian Candidate (with DenzelWashington and Meryl Streep). Jude Law will do double promotional duty on theLido representing I Heart Huckabeesand Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow.That film also stars Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and rising Chinese starBai Ling, who may also be on hand to promote Spike Lee's She Hate Me.

Scarlett Johanssen, who reachedstardom on the Lido in Lost InTranslation, will have her face all over town in both Shainee Gabel's A Love Song For Bobby Long (with JohnTravolta) and Mike Barker's A Good Woman.Hollywood A-listers could also turn out for Jonathan Glazer's Birth (with Venice regular NicoleKidman) and the previously confirmed Stephen Spielberg The Terminal (with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones). Dreamworksanimation Shark Tale is confirmed as a gala film at Toronto, making italmost certain that it will get its world premiere in Venice.

Mueller, an Asian specialist, hasalso gone heavy on Far Eastern titles. Having set Hayao Miyazaki's animated Howl's Moving Castle as the closingfilm, he has also made positive noises for films by half a dozen top namedirectors including Tsukamoto Shinya's Vital,Kim Ki-Duk's Three Iron (on conditionthat Kim finish it in time), Otomo Kasuhiro's animation Steam Boy, Miike Takashi's Iziand Johnny To's In The Nick Of Love.

Venice, however, may lack the spacefor his entire wish list, particularly now that Mueller has eliminated theconfusing second-string competition section, Controcorrente or Upstream. Thefestival has established a Directors Fortnight-like section with Mueller'sblessing, but this is not under his direct control.

This has meant a high degree offluidity between the sections that films have been offered. Titles risk beingmoved to different sections or in the final count even passed over. Some havealready had enough of Venice regularly shuffling its deck. Istvan Szabo'scommercially-targeted Being Julia wasreportedly moved to a 5pm out-of-competition gala screening, which star AnnetteBening and producer Robert Lantos declined. The film bounced over to Lantos'adopted Canada and finds itself happily positioned as the opening film atToronto.

There continues to be doubt, forexample, over Im Kwan-Taek's Raging Years(Hariyu Insaeng), which waspreviously on many people's Cannes shortlist. Non-selection of Korea's "livinglegend'would be a blow to those who have prepared new sub-titles and investedlarge prestige in the film getting a berth at an A-List festival - although other sources say the film will play on 8 Sept in Venice.Woody Allen's Melinda And Melinda,has also avoided Venice 'and possibly Toronto too 'to get its world premierein San Sebastian.

The list below is neitherexhaustive, nor in any way confirmed by the festival, but rather represents aportion of the shopping list that the festival has made enthusiastic noisesabout.

Mueller's 2004 Venice hopefuls

Vital (Tsukamoto Shinya)'
Three Iron (Kim Ki-duk)
Raging Years (Hariyu Insaeng) (Dir: Im Kwan Taek)
Eros (Wong Kar Wai, Strephen Soderbergh, Michaelangelo Antonioni)
Caf'Lumiere (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
Steam Boy (Otomo Kasuhiro)
Izi (Miike Takashi)
Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki)
Vanity Fair (Mira Nair)
A Hole In My Heart Lucas Moodysson
Mysterious Skin (Greg Araki)
Palindromes (Todd Solondz)
The Terminal (Stephen Spielberg)
Shark Tale (various)
She Hate Me (Spike Lee)
Untitled (Frederick Wiseman)
Vera Drake (Mike Leigh)
Land Of Plenty (Wim Wenders)
5x2 (Francois Ozon)
The Keys To The House (Gianni Amelio)
The Merchant Of Venice (Michael Radford)
Casas De Carton (Luis Mandoki)
A Love Song For Bobby Long
A GoodWoman(Mike Barker))
Hotel Rwanda (Terry George)
Wonderful Days (Kim Moon-saeng)
Collateral (Michael Mann))
Enduring Love (Roger Michell)
We Don't Live Here Anymore (John Curran)
O Quinto Imperio (Monoel d'Oliveira)
Birth (Jonathan Glazer)
I Heart Huckabees (David O Russell)
The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme)
Yes (Sally Potter)
Nine Songs (Michael Winterbottom)
P.S. (Dylan Kidd)
In The Nick Of Love (Johnny To)
La Vita Nuova (Michele Placido)
L'Intrus (Claire Denis)
Strings (Niels Bald)
La Relazione (Carlo Mazacurati
La Vita Che Vorrei (Guiseppe Piccione)
Vento Di Terra (Vincenzo Marra)