ROME – This year's Venice Film Festival (search) is showing fewer films, in part because of security concerns, the event's director said Thursday. Fifty-four full-length films are being screened, compared with 71 last year.
Italian movie producer Marco Muller (search), who's in charge of the festival, said the number of films that can be projected daily had been cut to allow time for security personnel to thoroughly check the theater space between screenings.
"The American producers asked us about security," Muller told reporters while presenting this year's lineup. "They were satisfied" about the details, he said, without elaborating.
Festival officials said it was too soon to tell if terrorism worries might mean the end of such rituals as dozens of paparazzi elbowing each other on a crowded dock to photograph stars as they pull up in boats.
"The subject of security is the order of the day," said Davide Croff, president of the Venice Biennale, whose activities include the festival, which runs Aug. 31 to Sept. 10.
Croff told The Associated Press that security needs to be "reasonable," but exactly what measures would be put into place were still being worked out.
Organizers also decided on a smaller number of offerings because they thought it would be better if festivalgoers had fewer films to absorb.
"We had too many films" in the past, Croff said.
George Clooney's "Goodnight and Good Luck" (search) is one of 19 films in competition for the Golden Lion (search), the top prize at Venice, where it will make its world premiere. He plays Fred Friendly, who with legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow took on Sen. Joseph McCarthy as the politician spearheaded a fierce drive to root out communists in the United States in the '50s.
Also competing for the Golden Lion: John Turturro's "Romance & Cigarettes" (search), starring James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon and Christopher Walken.
Among the U.S. films being screened at Venice outside of competition is "Bubble" (search), a murder mystery set in small-town Ohio, by Steven Soderbergh, the Academy Award-winning director of "Traffic," "Erin Brockovich" and "Sex, Lies, and Videotape."
While organizers boasted of a stellar U.S. presence among participants, the festival has a decidedly Asian accent, with Tsui Hark's "Seven Swords" (search) opening the festival and Peter Ho-sun Chan's "Perhaps Love" (search) closing it.
Film buffs also will be able to dozens of Chinese and Japanese films dating back decades.
Every year, the festival honors a film career, and this edition's prize will go to Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese animation master who has been called "the Japanese Disney."