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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Depp descends on Venice festival
Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp stars in a spaghetti Western tribute
Johnny Depp has become the latest Hollywood actor to grace this year's Venice Film Festival.

Depp arrived in the Italian city on Thursday to promote his latest movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

It also stars Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, who accompanied Depp and the film's director Robert Rodriguez.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a modern-day tribute to the classic spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone.

Venice is the world's oldest film festival, and is celebrating its 60th year with 20 films competing for its coveted Golden Lion award.

The festival is renowned for showing, and honouring, films broadly described as "artistic".

During the 11-day event, 143 films from around the world will be shown.

Dirty tactics

Like many of the bigger, more commercial, films showing this year, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is being shown out of competition.

Rodriguez's film features Banderas as a gun-slinging Mariachi player with Hayek as his leading lady.

Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek also made an appearance at the festival

Pop idol Enrique Iglesias also makes his feature film debut.

Depp, who plays a corrupt CIA agent, said he had "had a ball" making the movie.

"It was the only time I went to a director at the end of a film and said 'are you sure there's nothing else to shoot?'. I really wanted to stay," Depp added.

Other big Hollywood films at the festival are the Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty, starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Nicole Kidman and Sir Anthony Hopkins star in The Human Stain based on a novel by Philip Roth. Hopkins will attend the world première on Saturday but Kidman has pulled out.

Only one American film will be seen in competition, 21 Grams by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, with Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts.

Canine star

The controversial Italian film Segreti di Stato (Secret File), from director Paolo Benvenuti, has excited some festival-goers.

The movie reinterprets the 1947 massacre in Sicily of 11 communist peasants, which had long been blamed on a local bandit Salvatore Giuliano.

Italian actor Stefano Accorsi and Mario Monicelli
Italian actor Stefano Accorsi (left) joined Mario Monicelli on this year's jury

Benvenuti's film shows what he claims to be fresh evidence implicating many parties, including Pope Pius XII and the Mafia, in a plot to squash communism in post-war Sicily.

Italian heart-throb Stefano Accorsi, winner of the prize for best actor at Venice last year, arrived at the festival to take his place as a member of this year's jury.

He was accompanied by his small dog Anch'io (Me Too) and has since reportedly received numerous "dog-sitting" offers from female fans.

Hollywood director Woody Allen's latest film, Anything Else, launched the festival, with Allen making a rare public appearance outside his native New York.

Among the film's competing this year are works by three former Venice winners, Japan's Takeshi Kitano, Taiwan's Tsai Ming-liang and Germany's Margarethe von Trotta.

Two Lions d'Or have already been decided, with lifetime achievement awards to go to Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis and Egyptian actor Omar Sharif.




SEE ALSO:
Allen launches Venice festival
28 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Venice gets saucy at 60
26 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Italian film makes waves
27 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Venice prepares for film invasion
26 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Venice film prize favours Europe
31 Jul 03  |  Entertainment


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