Venice draws ‘Swords’

Tsui Hark's martial arts to open Asia-heavy fest

ROME — The 62nd Venice Intl. Film Festival will open with Hong Kong helmer Tsui Hark’s epic martial arts fantasy “Seven Swords,” out of competition.

The $18 million, 17th century action-packed epic was produced by Hong Kong’s Mandarin Films and Film Workshop, and shot in China’s Xinjiang region.

Plans are under way for a lavish opening-day “wuxia” martial arts theme party complete with fireworks on the Excelsior Hotel beach, also celebrating the centennial of Chinese cinema.

The fest will run Aug. 31-Sept. 10.

In what looks to be an Asia-heavy edition, Venice artistic topper Marco Mueller, who speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, is also assembling a “Secret History of Asian Cinema” retrospective, dedicated to noteworthy films from China, Hong Kong, Japan and India, which historically have remained largely confined to local distribution.

As previously announced, Mueller has also secured the presence of Japanese anime maestro Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”), who will be honored with a Golden Lion for career achievement.

Oscar-winning set designer Dante Ferretti (“The Aviator”) will be president of the jury.

Titles being bandied for the Lido’s slimmed-down slots include DreamWorks’ “Madagascar,” John Turturro’s “Romance and Cigarettes,” Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” Park Chan-wook’s “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,” Philippe Garrel’s “Les Amants Reguliers,” and Patrice Chereau’s “Gabrielle.”

The lineup will be announced July 28.

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