'Black Swan' receives high praise in Venice

Fest honored composer Armando Trovajoli with two awards

VENICE -- The 67th edition of the Venice Film Festival got under way Wednesday with a gala ceremony that included two career honors for Italian composer Armando Trovajoli and the world premiere of Darren Aronofsky's thriller "Black Swan."

"Swan," which stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as rivals in a ballet company, was the evening's highlight. Aronofsky, Portman and co-star Vincent Cassel were on hand for the premiere before a packed and enthusiastic Palazzo del Cinema crowd.

During the opening ceremony, the festival honored Trovajoli -- the composer behind about 300 films and television programs -- with an award for "cultural excellence," and Gianni Letta, a high-ranking member of the Italian government, gave him a medal for what he called the "triumph of the Italian melody."

Trovajoli, who turns 93 today, said the honors were a highlight of his career.

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Letta wasn't the only key government figure in attendance. Italy president Giorgio Napolitano was among the first to rise to his feet for the standing ovation at the end of "Swan."

Artistic director Marco Mueller used the occasion Wednesday to introduce members of the competition juries at this year's festival, including the main jury headed by Quentin Tarantino, who sparked applause when he shouted in Italian, "Amore per cinema!" (Love for cinema!).

Also Wednesday, fashion icon Gucci said it would collaborate with the festival beginning next year to create a collateral award for Women in Cinema. Gucci creative director Frida Giannini will select the film that best exemplifies the role of women in movies.

The festival concludes Sept. 11.