2 U.S. pix selected for competition

ROME — Sofia Coppola’s surreal story of California high school girls, “Lick the Star,” and David Ondaatje’s Hitchcockian thriller, “Waiting For Dr. MacGuffin,” will represent the U.S. in the 55th Venice Intl. Film Festival’s short film competition, Corto-Cortissimo.

From 625 titles submitted, 16 shorts have been chosen by Venice chief Felice Laudadio to compete for the Silver Lion award, which will be presented during the Sept. 13 closing ceremony.

The lineup includes films from Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Norway and Spain. Italian entries include “Taxi,” by Elisabetta Villaggio, daughter of veteran thesp Paolo Villaggio; and photographer Fabrizio Ferri’s “Prelude,” which features Sting and prima ballerina Alessandra Ferri.

The short film competition was introduced in its present form in 1997. This year’s jury includes French producer Georges Benayoun, Italian actress Chiara Caselli and a third member still to be announced.

Sole sponsor of Corto-Cortissimo is Studio Universal. Starting mid-May on cable and carried since late June via satellite, the movie channel has been transmitting on an experimental basis in Italy as part of the cable and pay TV operation of Telecom Italia’s multimedia and TV unit, Stream.

The Corto-Cortissimo lineup will include a special out-of-competition screening of Oscar Grillo’s “Wide Prairie,” to be shown in memory of the late Linda McCartney, who wrote and voiced the animated short, which she also produced with husband Paul McCartney.

The complete competition lineup follows:

“The Boot,” Peter Boyd Maclean (U.K.); “Five Minutes,” Britta Krause (Germany); “Lick the Star,” Sofia Coppola (U.S.); “A Man on Foot,” Andrea Manni (Italy); “Mashe’hoo Ba’al Erech,” Dorit Hakim (Israel); “Mr. Jones,” Jose Barrio (Spain); “Prelude, Fabrizio Ferri” (Italy); “Queen’s Park Story,” Barney Cokeliss (U.K.); “The Red Button,” Marc-Olivier Picron (Belgium); “The Sea Below,” Alessandro Dionisio (Italy); “Sweet Night,” Alexandre Billon (France); “Sunset in Venice,” Spiro N. Taviras (Greece/Italy/Germany); “Tann For Tann,” Emil Stang Lund (Norway); “Taxi,” Elisabetta Villaggio (Italy); “389,” Patrick Nolan (Australia); “Waiting For Dr. MacGuffin,” David Ondaatje (U.S.)

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