Dog days dog Venice opener

VENICE — As Alan Rickman’s icy Emma Thompson starrer “The Winter Guest” and Paul Schrader’s wintry Nick Nolte drama “Affliction” unspooled Thursday night on the Lido, a steamy Venetian heat contributed to a languid mood for industryites as the Venice Intl. Film Festival moved into its second day.

Overall buzz among U.S. acquisitions execs already here is tepid at best, even though many pics on the schedule are without North American distribution. And although acquisitions staffers from Miramax, Polygram and Buena Vista Intl. are on the scene, several film company execs say they are hopeful their pictures will be picked up after screenings at Telluride this weekend, or at the upcoming Toronto fest, rather than at Venice.

The main contingent of film buyers is yet to arrive, however, alongside major star power in the form of Harrison Ford and Sylvester Stallone, tubthumping BVI’s “Air Force One” and Miramax’s “Cop Land,” respectively.

Ford’s appearance illustrates the high profile that distribber Buena Vista Intl. is enjoying in the overseas arena. Posters around the Lido proclaim BVI’s winning poker hand with four international aces: “Air Force One,” “Con Air,” “Face/Off” and “Hercules.”

The other U.S. company enjoying a big showing at Venice is Fine Line, with four pics in various parts of the fest, including the fest’s Woody Allen opener “Deconstructing Harry” and “The Winter Guest” (in competition).

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