Despite having to shift his final shooting location - either to Macao or Australia - because of SARS fears in Shanghai, Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 is still on course for a October 1 platform release in China, confirmed Fortissimo Film Sales yesterday

The prospect of completion raises the possibility that Wong's eagerly-awaited fim may even be ready for this year's Venice Film Festival in September. However, bigger doubts surround the Venice inclusion of Eros, the trilogy whose other parts have already been wrapped up by veteran Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni and Stephen Soderbergh. Wong's segment stars Tony Leung.

There are also question marks over the presence on the Lido of Walter Salles's Motorcycle Diaries, The Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

"Walter Salles would like his film to go to Venice but he doesn't know if it will be ready in time," said Venice chief Moritz de Hadeln. "And the Coen brothers want to reshoot some scenes of their film in July and August. But they have suggested showing it as a work-in-progress screening where press would be banned from reviewing it."

Intolerable Cruelty, which is produced by Imagine Entertainment and Universal stars Catherine Zeta-Jones stars opposite George Clooney in the role of a gold-digging Beverly Hills divorcee.

While the list of Venice no-goers is shaping up, the line-up is likely to be a good one for Italy. Contenders are likely to include cult Italian filmmakers Daniele Cipri and Franco Maresco's The Return Of Cagliostro, which stars Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund, and new films from Italian auteurs Pasquale Scimeca and Paolo Virzi.

"I am optimistic about the line-up but I am also careful, a bit superstitious if you like," said a tight-lipped De Hadeln, who did say that the number of films in the festival will be slightly reduced from last year due to logistic difficulties that surfaced last year.

"At the moment, filmmaking is strong in the former Yugoslavia, Thailand and Korea, although there doesn't necessarily mean there will be films from those countries."

Meanwhile, the Venice director said the festival has obtained special package deal rates at hotel of the Starwood Chain, which owns hotels like The Hotel des Bains and the Excelsior.

Venice is also working on improving screening facilities and the industry offices which will be moved to the Excelsior Hotel this year.