Biography of Mexican artist to open Venice Film Festival

— "Frida," the long-awaited biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo starring Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas, will open the 59th Venice Film Festival, organizers announced Tuesday.

Another attention-grabbing entrant at the Aug. 29-Sept. 8 festival will be Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal," with an ensemble cast including Julia Roberts and David Duchovny.

The festival consists of two competitions: Venezia 59, in which 21 films expected to have wide appeal will battle for a Golden Lion; and Countercurrent, with 17 movies considered less mainstream vying for best film.

In addition to "Frida," another key film in the Venezia 59 competition is "Road to Perdition," starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. The movie, by "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes, already has opened to acclaim in the United States.

In the Countercurrent section, Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" was drawing buzz. The film, which opens Friday, is considered an unofficial sequel to "sex, lies, and videotape," the low-budget 1989 movie that launched the career of the director of "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich."

Julie Taymor's biography of Kahlo, which is expected to open in the United States in late October, comes with the artist's popularity on the rise. Kahlo, who was married to artist Diego Rivera and died in 1954, is known for haunting self-portraits with surrealistic touches.

Chinese actress Gong Li will lead the Venice Film Festival jury. In 1992, she won the best actress award in Venice in director Zhang Yimou's "The Story of Qiu Ju," which took the Golden Lion for best film that year.


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