Almodovar, Tilda Swinton and cast of Bosnian film "Quo vadis, Aida ?" hit Venice red carpet

SHOTLIST VENICE, VENETO, ITALYSEPTEMBER 3, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 1. Tracking shot Spanish director Pedro Almodovar arrives on the red carpet2. Tracking shot Spanish director Pedro Almodovar walks on the red carpet3. Close-up Pedro Almodovar removes mask from his face 4. Tracking shot British actress Tilda Swinton arrives on the red carpet5. Close-up Tilda Swinton on the red carpet with a golden carnival mask 6. Tracking shot 'Quo vadis, Aida?' cast walks on the red carpet7. Wide shot 'Quo vadis, Aida?' cast on the red carpet8. Mid shot Georgina Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo's wife, arrives on the red carpet9. Wide shot Georgina Rodriguez on the red carpet10. Close-up Georgina Rodriguez with a mask on her face11. Tracking shot Georgina Rodriguez on the red carpet12. Mid shot Georgina Rodriguez puts a mask on her face ///-----------------------------------------------------------3 DEPECHES DE CONTEXTE: Venice Film Festival opens despite pandemic =(Picture+Video)= ATTENTION - REFILE for technical reasons ///Venice, Sept 2, 2020 (AFP) - The Venice Film Festival opens on Wednesday with strict safety measures in place for the industry's first international competition since the coronavirus hit, with 18 films vying to grab the top prize and help movie buffs forget the pandemic for a while.At Wednesday's opening film, "Lacci" by Italian director Daniele Luchetti, the theatre was just half full with journalists, whose temperatures were taken before being allowed inside.On the eve of the annual high-profile competition on the Lido, dozens of red safety signs were unloaded and installed throughout the venue attested to the peculiarity of this year's event. "Anti-Covid-19 rules of conduct," read the bright, vertical signs. "Wear a face mask. Keep a safe distance. Wash your hands."The sound of drills pierced the warm beach-front air as workers went about their last-minute preparations and journalists -- all in masks -- wandered the freshly laid red carpet, their festival badges suspended from their necks."This year in Venice, they've confused the festival with the Carnival. We're at a masked ball," one Italian journalist quipped to his colleagues. One exception was Festival Director Alberto Barbera, tanned and mask-free, as he gave interviews on the red carpet about the importance of this year's festival."I'm excited and I'm a little bit anxious," acknowledged Barbera, neatly turned out in a pressed blue suit despite the heat.In May, Barbera made the high-stakes decision to go ahead with "La Mostra" -- now in its 77th year -- despite film festivals around the world opting to cancel, including Venice's French rival, the Cannes Film Festival."We feel a responsibility to be the first. We knew Venice will be sort of a test for everyone," he said. For the past few months across the globe, most film production remained on hold and movie theatres dark due to the coronavirus. - Fewer stars, less glitz - About 6,000 people are expected to turn out this year -- about half the festival's usual number -- as border restrictions around the globe have limited the ability of many to travel. Most of Hollywood's A-list will be no-shows, with Australian actress Cate Blanchett supplying this year's star power as president of the jury."It's a festival without stars because Hollywood is still in lockdown," Barbera told AFP. "Will there be less glamour? Yes. Will there be fewer stars on the red carpet? Certainly."But there will be so many good films, 65 from 50 different countries, a sign of the richness and variety of contemporary cinema." Eighteen films in the main competition will vie for the festival's top prize, the prestigious Golden Lion.Provided it was done safely, it was now time for film lovers to be back in theatre seats, Barbera said."We're tired of seeing films in streaming," he said.Organisers are hoping they can safely run the festival -- due to go on until September 12 -- despite coronavirus cases on the rise in Italy and neighbouring European countries.In one of the most radical changes, fans will no longer be allowed on the red carpet, where in past years they've pressed behind barriers hoping to get a photo or autograph from their favourite celebrities. ams/wdb/txw ------------------------------------------------------------- Srebrenica film skewers UN failure to stop massacre By Alexandria SAGE =(Picture+Video)= Venice, Sept 3, 2020 (AFP) - A powerful film about the 1995 Srebrenica massacre skewers the UN for handing over more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys to be murdered by Serb forces."Quo Vadis, Aida?" by Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic left many critics in tears Thursday as it premiered at the Venice film festival.It came as Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic -- dubbed the "Butcher of Bosnia" -- who lead the assault on the town, appeals his genocide conviction for the massacre at a war crimes tribunal in The Hague. "A whole generation was wiped out," Zbanic told reporters after the screening.The director -- who survived the siege in Sarajevo herself -- said she dedicated the film to the women left behind at Srebrenica, whose sons, husbands and brothers were torn from them. Some families, she said, lost 60 members. - 'Safe area' - Although Zbanic's story is told through the eyes of a fictional translator working for the UN called "Aida" who fights to save her husband and sons, the film is anchored in meticulous historical fact.Despite Srebrenica's designation by the UN as a "safe area, the Bosnian Serb army invaded the town, sending its panicked residents to a UN camp operated by Dutch forces where they hoped to be safe. The film is a searing indictment of the impotence of the Dutch peacekeepers, who had waited in vain for promised NATO air support, and found themselves powerless to defend the camp against Mladic's army.Zbanic interviewed former UN peacekeepers during her research for the film. "There was a guy who told me he was crying because he felt he couldn't do anything," she said.After the camp's evacuation, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed in the ensuing series of massacres by Mladic's soldiers. - 'No political will' - The Dutch peacekeepers "had a mission to protect people even with weapons and they didn't fire a single shot," Zbanic told journalists. "This film is not against the UN. I wish that the UN improves. We need this kind of organisation for our security," Zbanic said, adding that there seemed little "political will" in the world today for such international institutions. "Unfortunately in 1990s Bosnia it didn't work because it was too much under the influence of political decisions," she said. The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled the July 1995 killings were genocide. Mladic's appeal began last month, with his lawyers claiming their client, now 78, is not mentally fit to stand trial. In the film, his swagger and imposing physical presence are captured by actor Boris Isakovic who said he struggled to fight against a "one-dimensional" portrayal of the war criminal. Some of the Mladic's dialogue in the film is taken word-for-word from video footage of the general filmed at the time in Srebrenica.ams/fg/har ------------------------------------------------------------- leadSpanish director Almodovar to make western =(Picture)= ATTENTION - ADDS quotes ///Venice, Sept 3, 2020 (AFP) - We have had spaghetti westerns, now the world must brace itself for an Almodovar paella western.Legendary Spanish director Pedro Almodovar said Thursday that he is working on a western, a surprising career turn for the master of female-friendly melodrama who made his name with "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown".The Oscar winner told reporters at the Venice film festival that he has written the cowboy flick, but that it was "a different kind of western, which will be very colourful... very theatrical."Spaghetti westerns made by Italian directors like the late Sergio Leone became a phenomenon in the 1960s, with many shot in Spain's dry southeastern Almeria region.Almodovar premiered his latest film, "The Human Voice" at Venice Thursday, with British actress Tilda Swinton in the lead as a desperate and vengeful woman waiting for her estranged lover to ring her.Shot last month, the 30-minute film is his first shot in English and is very freely adapted from Jean Cocteau's classic play.The 70-year-old director admitted that the play and its theme of the jilted lover waiting on a "call that will never come" was close to his heart."It is happened to me," he told a press conference, and said that characters hanging on a telephone call was a thread that ran through a lot of his own work.Almodovar also claimed that he has started moving in a new more austere direction since his 2016 film "Julieta". "I am working towards a leaner narrative with fewer elements, which I analyse very deeply," insisted the director once famous for his visual and emotional flamboyance."The experience of sobriety and austerity accompanied me also in 'Pain And Glory'," his last and hugely autobiographical film, where Antonio Banderas played a film director suffering from chronic back pain, as Almodovar also does.He said he is hoping to start his next feature, "Madres Paralelas" in October and then make the western and another film called "A Manual for Cleaning Women".fg/pvh -------------------------------------------------------------