Clooney And Bullock Open Venice Festival
Hollywood stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock have kicked off the 70th Venice Film Festival with their space drama that opens a line-up of gloomy films.
Gravity, a 3D sci-fi thriller, sees Clooney and Bullock as astronauts who are flung into deep space when a debris shower destroys their shuttle.
The stars sashayed down the red carpet to the song Mambo Italiano for the opening ceremony of the world's oldest film festival, drawing screams from adoring fans.
The Hollywood pair arrived by motorboat a day ahead of the opening gala.
The festival is putting on 53 new feature films this year, all but two world premieres, with 33 countries represented in the overall line-up.
Five US, four British and three Italian films are among the 20 competing for the coveted Golden Lion, which will be decided by a jury headed by Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci.
The entries include Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem, starring Christoph Waltz and Matt Damon, Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin, featuring Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Frears' Philomena, with Judi Dench, and Joe, starring Nicolas Cage.
Festival director Alberto Barbera pointed out that this year's event also has a political element to it.
"The economy is, of course, one of the elements of this crisis, one of the most important elements but it is not only the crisis of the economy, it's the crisis of the values which is much more important and it seems that contemporary cinema is very much aware of this situation," he said.
"All the most interesting filmmakers are referring to this situation and are working on it, telling stories that are dealing with this."
The festival, which runs until September 7, was originally set up under Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini as a propaganda vehicle, with Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels among the original guests.
"It was a different historical moment," said Mr Barbera.
"We had Mussolini as the head of the government so the festival was a sort of window to show the power of the regime in Italy ? and most of the awards went to films from Italy and Germany at the same time and so it was very political."