Venice thinks local with festival opener

Tornatore pic is first Italian film to open fest in two decades

ROME -- The world premiere of "Baaria," Oscar winner Giuseppe Tornatore's coming-of-age biopic, will be the first Italian film to open the Venice Film Festival in two decades.

The film is the follow-up to Tornatore's critically acclaimed 2006 drama "La sconosciuta" (The Unknown Woman). Tornatore's "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso," which, like "Baaria," is set in the director's native Sicily, won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 1990.

Venice organizers said Wednesday that the film -- named for the nickname for the Sicilian village where Tornatore was born -- will open the festival Sept. 2 as part of a gala event at the main cinema in the Venice Lido's Palazzo del Cinema. The film will go into general release in Italy in Sept. 25.

Tornatore is no stranger to Venice. His competition film "L'uomo delle stelle" (The Star Maker) won the jury prize at the festival in 1995, two years after Tornatore was a member of the festival's main jury.

The 66th edition of the Venice festival is set for Sept. 2-12.