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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
British directors compete at Venice
Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks stars in Road to Perdition
Oscar-winner Sam Mendes will compete against fellow Britons Stephen Daldry and Stephen Frears at next month's Venice Film Festival.

Mendes is in the running for his new movie Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks as a hitman in Depression-era America.

Stephen Daldry's The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman as author Virginia Woolf, is also in the running, competing against Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things for the prestigious title.

Scotsman Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters completes the quartet of British film-makers in competition.

Stars such as Hanks, Julianne Moore, Salma Hayek and Sophia Loren are among those expected to attend the 59th Venice festival when it opens on 29 August.

Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren has not attended for 20 years
The festival kicks off this year with Frida, which stars Hayek as surrealist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Directed by Broadway veteran Julie Taymor, the film co-stars Edward Norton, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush and Antonio Banderas as Kahlo's husband Diego Rivera.

Julianne Moore will be attending to promote her new film The Hours, Daldry's first film since Billy Elliot.

Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman also star in the drama, which focuses on three women in different eras profoundly affected by the works of Woolf.

Critically acclaimed

Frida is also entered into the Golden Lion competition.

Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek stars as surrealist painter Frida Kahlo
Co-starring Paul Newman and Jude Law, The Hours has been a big success both critically and commercially in the US and is an early front-runner for next year's Oscars.

Countries represented at the festival include South Korea, Italy, France, Russia and Japan.

Sophia Loren, meanwhile, will be attending her first Venice festival for 20 years. She is starring in Between Strangers, directed by her son Eduardo Ponti, which will be screened during the fortnight.

Word of Mouth

"It's a miracle that we've been able to put together an interesting, rich and varied programme like this in little more than four months," said festival director Moritz De Hadeln, who was previously in charge of the Berlin Film Festival.
Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes won an Oscar for American Beauty

About 143 films will be screened at the festival, including the 21 competing for the Golden Lion and a further 17 in contention for the new San Marco award in the festival's Countercurrent section.

These include Steven Soderbergh's latest, Full Frontal, a low-budget, unofficial sequel to Sex, Lies and Videotape. Julia Roberts stars in the film which is already attracting strong word of mouth.

Other highlights will include a gala dinner to honour legendary Italian film-maker Michaelangelo Antonioni on 5 September.

This year's Jury will be headed by Chinese actress Gong Li, who won the Best Actress award at Venice in 1992 for The Story Of Qiu Ju.

See also:

30 Jul 02 | Entertainment
28 Jul 02 | Entertainment
22 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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