Fest preem payback for success of Allen's previous pic

It was fitting that New York icon Woody Allen was on hand to kick off the opening night of the 18th annual Los Angeles Film Festival, which on Thursday played host to the premiere of the filmmaker’s latest pic, “To Rome With Love.”

“It’s a very sunny film and the perfect summer movie,” said Sony Pictures Classics co-prexy Michael Barker. “Woody is always very supportive of his films and every time we’ve had one, we try to do something different and special. The last two movies were in Cannes and we’d done New York premieres for several other films, so when the L.A. Film Festival offered us the opening night slot, we thought it was the perfect platform. Also, Los Angeles was very key to the huge success of ‘Midnight in Paris’ with the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. I think he was really pleased that we were able to bring a lot of actors here because he likes showing them off, as he did tonight.”

Indeed, leading lady Penelope Cruz joined her female co-stars Alison Pill, Greta Gerwig, Simona Caparrini and Alessandra Mastronardi at the premiere. “I like seeing him adapt to each culture,” said Cruz, who previously worked with Allen in Spain on “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” “I’m very grateful that he has faith in me to give me his characters, because I love both characters that he gave me. He’s one of the funniest people in the world and he makes me laugh all day long. I think we understand each other’s sense of humor.”

Ever the neurotic curmudgeon, Allen said he enjoys coming out west “for a few days, but I could never live in California because I don’t like sunshine or being dependent on a car. I have a lot of friends out here and the city has changed tremendously so I love coming out here, but it’s not my lifestyle.”

In his first bigscreen appearance since his 2006 pic “Scoop,” Allen plays an opera director who fears he’ll wind up in a retirement home with a colonoscopy bag if he doesn’t get back to work. Could that be why the 76-year-old helmer has maintained his real-life output in recent years?

“I do feel like that theoretically, but I haven’t felt that’s an issue with me. I know I’m older but I don’t feel elderly or infirmed or incapacitated, so I just get up and work normally. Some day, it may be different. Some day I might be hobbling around and then I’d have to think, is it better to retire or die in the saddle?”

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