Venice hopes for big finish

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Jonathan Demme and Anne Hathaway arrived Tuesday at the Venice Film Festival ahead of today's premiere of "Rachel Getting Married," kicking off what many hope will be a strong finish for a festival that has been hammered by the Italian media since opening last week.

On Tuesday, L'Unita said that demand for hotels and restaurants on the Lido are down by a fifth compared with last year's levels and that ticket sales also are weaker. Corriere della Sera continued its assault on the competition lineup, calling it Venice's weakest in years.

The festival's schedule during its final days has prompted talk that Venice erred by backloading the event with its stronger titles — at a time when many journalists and industry players will be preparing to depart for the Toronto International Film Festival, which begins Thursday.

In addition to Demme's "Married," Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" and "The Hurt Locker" from Kathryn Bigelow are among the major films yet to screen on the Lido. Venice concludes Sunday.

A festival spokesman declined comment on the timing of the screenings.

Meanwhile, the military crisis between Russia and Georgia has had an effect; Georgian documentary filmmaker/actress Nino Kirtadze backed out of her role as a member of the documentary competition jury to remain in Tiblisi. (partialdiff)
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