The world economic crisis and fundamentalisms of every stripe are the twin keynotes of this year's Venice Film Festival, festival director Alberto Barbera said at a press conference here on Wednesday.
''The crisis and its fallout in terms of values, models, behaviors and relationships, is a big theme this year,'' Barbera said. ''As is the theme of religious, political and economic fundamentalism, beginning with our opening night film, the thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist'' by the Indian director Mira Nair. The festival will be leaner and meaner this year, and all the films shown will be world premieres, Barbera said. There will be 18 films competing for the Golden Lion (against 22 last year), 18 in the Horizons section, and 23 out of competition. Barbera announced 17 long format films will compete head-to-head this festival. "The surprise (entry) will not be Chinese," Barbera told journalists, in one of a number of barbs directed at his predecessor for the last eight years, Marco Mueller. Mueller, known for his passion for Asian cinema, almost always included a Chinese "surprise" entry. Barbera took another jab at Mueller without naming names, saying the contest candidates "are all world premiers. I want to say that because by now everyone says that and we would be white flies not to do so". Mueller was known for underlining the point at press presentations.