VENICE — A glowing Mira Nair strutted down the Lido’s balmy red carpet with pic’s protag Riz Ahmed and co-stars Liev Schreiber and Kate Hudson for Venice opener “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” on Aug. 29.

Jury prexy Michael Mann and a slew of top talent, including fellow jurors Samantha Morton, Laetitia Casta, Italo helmer Matteo Garrone and performance artist Marina Abramovic, posed for the paparazzi before filing into the Palazzo Del Cinema for a somewhat somber kick-off for the 11-day event.

Before “Fundamentalist” world preemed, event hostess Kasia Smutniak declared the fest open after striking a separate, but related, political note. She pointed to an empty white seat on the stage, Venice’s reminder to the world, following similar initiatives in Berlin and Cannes, that Iranian helmer Jafar Panahi is still held under house arrest in his country.

The day before, on Aug. 28, about 200 guests attended Starwood and Variety’s annual pre-opening-day party on the rooftop terrace of the historic Hotel Danieli, where the theme was James Bond. Pulsating beats blended in with vivacious chatting and unleashed some boogeying as darkness fell.

In brief speeches, made with the lagoon sunset’s golden haze in the backdrop, Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera praised the fest’s collaboration with Variety , which has spawned market dailies this year, while Alberto Lopez, Variety’s head of international sales, proposed Starwood Venezia Antonello De’ Medici be given a special prize for hosting what has become the event’s most high-energy bash.

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