Venice festival balks at loss of ‘Innocence’

Figgis, thesps stage disappearing act

LONDON — The producers of “The Loss of Sexual Innocence” want to pull the Mike Figgis-directed pic from the Venice Film Festival, where it was slated for its world premiere Sept. 6 in the noncompetitive Perspectives sidebar. The only problem: Fest organizers are balking at such a move.

The decision to withdraw the film was taken by its financier, Summit Entertainment, when it was realized that neither Figgis nor the main cast, including Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows and Kelly Macdonald, would be available to support the pic. “Loss” was produced by Figgis and Annie Stewart.

In addition, sources said that Cecchi Gori, the Italian distributor of “Loss,” wasn’t keen on the pic preeming at this year’s Venice when it wouldn’t be released in Italy until 1999.

However, Venice film fest director Felice Laudadio told Daily Variety that the festival has every intention of going ahead with a screening, regardless of whether the principals behind the film attend or not.

“They have signed an entry form which is, in our view, binding as an international contract. They gave us the film, we have translated their dialogue list into subtitles, and we think the film has one of the best time slots of the Perspectives section,” Laudadio pointed out.

Last year, Figgis’ film “One Night Stand” screened in the official competition at Venice, and “Stand” star Wesley Snipes took home the best actor prize. “One Night Stand” was backed by New Line Cinema.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics, which has U.S. and U.K. rights to “Loss,” is keen to save its promo blitz on the new Figgis film until the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.

Although it may not come to legal action, Venice is, per Laudadio, in a position to sue any producer who withdraws a film after signing an entry form and supplying a print and materials.

Summit would not comment.

(Benedict Carver in Los Angeles contributed to this story.)

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