The Italian flag will fly high over the Lido this year. Following a strong showing at Cannes, four local titles will screen in competition at the 65th Venice film festival, with the Italian industry out in force with 20 films.

Artistic director Marco Mueller reportedly had to make an official request to bend the rules that limit Italian competition pictures to three. The four films are Pappi Corsicato's Il Seme Della Discordia, a comedy about fertility, Ferzan Ozpetek's Un Giorno Perfetto, an adaptation of Melania Mazzucco's novel, Marco Bechis' Amazon-set Birdwatchers, and Pupi Avati's Il Papa Di Giovanna about a father-daughter relationship.

Notably, there is one fewer US feature in competition than last year, none solely from the UK or Spain, and two animations from Japanese masters Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii. The line-up says much about Mueller's ability to dig deep, particularly in a year when the US writers' strike has limited US offerings. For example, US director Darren Aronofsky will be presenting a 'wet premiere' as he races to get his film The Wrestler from the print lab.

No closing film has yet been announced, but the festival will open with Joel and Ethan Coen's dark spy comedy Burn After Reading, screening out of competition. It is produced by Working Title Films, which also made last year's opener, Atonement.

Burn After Reading reunites Lido regular George Clooney and Tilda Swinton (both in competition at Venice with Michael Clayton last year) and secures enough star power to rev up the Lido event's launch, with Brad Pitt, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand all expected to be in town.


The Wrestler (US) Dir: Darren Aronofsky

The Burning Plain (US) Dir: Guillermo Arriaga

Il Papa Di Giovanna (It) Dir: Pupi Avati

Birdwatchers (It) Dir: Marco Bechis

L'Autre (Fr) Dirs: Patrick Mario Bernard and Pierre Trividic

The Hurt Locker (US) Dir: Kathryn Bigelow

Il Seme Della Discordia (It) Dir: Pappi Corsicato

Rachel Getting Married (US) Dir: Jonathan Demme

Teza (Ethiopia-Ger-Fr) Dir: Haile Gerima

Paper Soldier (Rus) Dir: Aleksey German Jr

Sut (Turk-Fr-Ger) Dir: Semih Kaplanoglu

Achilles And The Tortoise (Jap) Dir: Takeshi Kitano

Ponyo On The Cliff (Jap) Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

Vegas: Based On A True Story (US) Dir: Amir Naderi

The Sky Crawlers (Jap) Dir: Mamoru Oshii

Un Giorno Perfetto (It) Dir: Ferzan Ozpetek

Jerichow (Ger) Dir: Christian Petzold

Inju, La Bete Dans L'Ombre (Fr) Dir: Barbet Schroeder

Nuit De Chien (Fr-Ger-Port) Dir: Werner Schroeter

Inland (Alg-Fr) Dir: Tariq Teguia

Plastic City (Brazil-Ch-HK-Jap) Dir: Yu Lik-wai

Out Of Competition

Puccini E La Fanciulla (It) Dir: Paolo Benvenuti

Yuppi Du (It) Dir: Adriano Celentano

Burn After Reading (US) (opening film) Dirs: Joel and Ethan Coen

35 Rhums (Fr-Sp) Dir: Claire Denis

Shirin (Iran) Dir: Abbas Kiarostami

Tutto E Musica (1963) (It) Dir: Domenico Modugno

Orfeo 9 (1973) (It) Dir: Tito Schipa Jr

Les Plages d'Agnes (Fr) Dir: Agnes Varda

Vinyan (Fr-UK-Bel) Dir: Fabrice du Welz

Encarnacao Do Demonio (Braz) Dir: Jose Mojica Marins

Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu) (It) Dir: Piero Tellini