De Palma puts Iraq on Venice agenda

Clooney, corporate America on the spot at fest

More news from the Venice Film Festival

VENICE, Italy -- The Iraq War and the more sinister side of corporate America got chins wagging on the Lido on Friday as the storm clouds cleared and the weekend loomed.

Brian De Palma's "Redacted," the account of a squad of U.S. troops in Iraq and the rape and murder of a 15-year-old Iraqi girl and her family, was a welcome shot of adrenaline in the arm for the festival as it entered its first weekend.

De Palma, who wrote and directed the buzzed-about title, explained to reporters that "redacted" is the legal term for taking out inflammatory information in documents such as soldiers' letters.

"Sadly, the true story of the war in Iraq has been redacted from the mainstream corporate media," De Palma said. "I did this film because I believe that if we as a country are going to cause such disorder we must also be prepared to face the horrendous images that result from these events."

And Friday will go down as the day the ever-cool George Clooney lost his world-renowned cool -- albeit momentarily -- during the press conference for scribe Tony Gilroy's directorial debut, "Michael Clayton."

Clooney, when asked by an Italian journalist how it was possible for him to star in a movie about the sinister side of corporate America while taking paychecks to promote products from various corporations, began with a smile.

"You can't fault a guy for trying to make a living now and again," Clooney said, smiling. But the actor, one of the most popular visitors to the festival here, quickly changed tack. "That's actually a very irritating question," he said. "I'm not going to answer it."

Clooney quickly recovered from his irritation, going on to field a host of questions with his usual wit and humor.

Gilroy said he had kept hold of the movie for a long time before allowing himself to direct his own story.

Addressing the end of his Section 8 production venture with Steven Soderbergh, Clooney said that the duo had always put a timeline on the lifespan for the shingle.

"It became less about filmmaking and more about the things we didn't want to do, like cutting trailers," Clooney said. "We knew it wouldn't be forever."

Also premiering Friday was Oscar winner Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah," about a career soldier and his wife who seek to uncover the truth about their son's disappearance when he comes home from a tour in Iraq.