Controversial Sept. 11 movie applauded at Venice film fest

Friday, September 6, 2002

— A controversial movie about the Sept. 11 attacks was received enthusiastically Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, with the audience reportedly giving the longest applause to a segment considered among the most hostile to the United States.

The French-backed project, "11'09"01", consists of short films by 11 international directors. The movie � which includes segments directed by Sean Penn, Ken Loach and Mira Nair � has been accused of being anti-American, which the producers deny.

At Thursday's screening, the audience of mainly film-industry and media guests applauded after each segment and at the end of the 135-minute film, the ANSA news agency reported.

ANSA said the longest applause was for British filmmaker Loach's segment, which features an exiled Chilean living in Britain who writes a letter to the families of the Sept. 11 victims. He tells them that on Sept. 11, 1973, in Chile a U.S.-supported coup d'etat ushered in an era of torture and death.

Another controversial segment is by Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. In it, the ghost of a U.S. Marine who was killed in a 1983 terrorist attack in Lebanon is lectured about destruction caused by U.S. meddling in the world � from Hiroshima to the Middle East.

"11'09"01" also will be shown Sept. 11 at the Toronto Film Festival. It opens in France and a dozen other countries on that date. There are no immediate plans for a U.S. release.

Other films drawing attention in Venice on Thursday were "Dolls," by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, and Polish director Agnieszka Holland's "Julie Walking Home." They are among 21 movies in competition.

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni was honored for a celebration of his life's work.

Wednesday, celebrities including Milla Jovovich, Julie Delpy and Elizabeth Berkeley showed up for an AIDS research fund-raiser on the sidelines of the festival. It raised more than $500,000 for the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

The Venice festival began Aug. 29 and ends Sunday.