Venice feels 'Burn'

Empty

Venice regulars Brad Pitt and George Clooney helped assure that the 65th annual Venice Film Festival got under way with flashbulbs popping Wednesday, taking to the red carpet soon after Russian actress Ksenia Rappoport officially opened the event to an enthusiastic and packed Sala Grande.

Rappoport — known in Italy for her Donatello-nominated role in Giuseppe Tornatore's "The Unknown" — was master of ceremonies at the gala opening ceremony that kicked off the world's oldest film festival.

But it was the world premiere of "Burn After Reading" from Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen that attracted most of the day's attention, including the four-deep crowd that greeted Pitt and Clooney on their trip down Venice's famous red carpet. They were joined by the Coens as well as co-stars Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand.

Earlier in the day, the Pitt and Clooney show provided some laughs at the "Burn" news conference, where the stars traded gibes about their public personal lives.

"I am so surprised to hear that question. That is honestly the first time I have been asked that," Clooney said when asked when he plans to settle down like his co-star. "I am getting married and having a child today."

The day's other major highlight was the afternoon screening of Vittorio De Sica's 1948 classic "The Bicycle Thief," which premiered in its newly refurbished format. The film played to a full, 500-seat Sala Perla within the Venice Casino, which financed the €120,000 ($179,000) restoration.

"It's an important project, and we are very proud to be associated with it," Casino president Mauro Pizzigati said.

The Venice festival runs through Sept. 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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