ALLEN FILMING IN ALIEN TERRITORY

Cameras rolled Sept. 11 in Venice on the Italian sequences of Woody Allen’s next feature, a comedy-musical starring the director alongside Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn and Alan Alda.

The two-week stint in Venice marks Allen’s second foray onto an Italian location, following the scenes shot in the ancient Greek amphitheater of Sicilian resort town Taormina for “Mighty Aphrodite,” one of the undisputed hits of this month’s Venice Film Festival.

Despite the customary secrecy that surrounds all of Allen’s features during production, reports in the Italo press this week gave away basic plot elements. Media attention here also is heightened by the casting of fast-rising national heart-throb Kim Rossi Stuart in a featured role.

The story centers on a traditional, close-knit Jewish family with a half-crazy grandfather and an absent father who lives in Paris, where additional shooting is scheduled. The majority of the 14-week shoot will take place in Allen’s favored stomping ground, New York.

The Italian interlude features Allen and Roberts as father and daughter, with the latter casting a spell over a young Venetian count, played by Rossi Stuart.

Allen’s regular cinematographer on his last 11 features, Carlo Di Palma, shot the initial sequences Sept. 11 in central Venice near the famed Fenice theater. Lensing also is scheduled to take place in the Venice fish market and in the garden of Count Volpi’s villa.

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