Celebs celebrate pics at fest

VENICE — Out-of-competition pics at the 62nd Venice Film Festival seem to be dueling for their own prize — best party.

Topping the list are the world preem of Lasse Hallstrom‘s “Casanova” at the courtyard of Venice’s Palazzo Ducale in St. Mark’s Square Sept. 3; the “Elizabethtown” fete at disco club the Pagoda Sept. 4; and “Cinderella Man” Sept. 5 at the Cipriani Hotel.

Outside the Cipriani, where flaming torches lined the lagoon, stood “Cinderella Man” helmer Ron Howard on a weekend off from “The Da Vinci Code” shooting in London.

“Watching the official screening of ‘Cinderella Man’ was absolutely exhilarating,” he said. “The audience response to this film has been among the best of my career.”

As for “Code,” Howard could not give any details about the top-secret Louvre shoot, but he did say it was “extraordinary” to film there. “Tom Hanks and I spent some time talking about how we’ve filmed underwater in “Splash” and in weightlessness for ‘Apollo 13.’ We seem to go on great adventures together.”

While enjoying their surroundings at the “Elizabethtown” party — the Cameron Crowe helmed pic bows this fall — thesps Susan Sarandon remained mindful of the devastation in New Orleans set off by Hurricane Katrina.

“I am heartbroken and outraged, and I can’t wait to get home and see what is going on,” said Sarandon, who lensed “Dead Man Walking” in the Big Easy.

Meanwhile, rain poured down Sept. 3 just as guests filed into St. Mark’s Square, forcing caterers to turn a lavish al fresco banquet for “Casanova” into a somewhat more claustrophobic affair, with everyone squeezed under the surrounding arcades.

Still, you couldn’t beat the ancient aura of the venue, as an orchestra plucked strings, accompanying the drops pattering on the pavement of the onetime residence of the Venetian Doge.

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