The Venice film festival, which opened on 31 August, is screening 19 films in the annual competition this year from 1-9 September. Candidates for the Leone dOro (the Venetian equivalent of an Oscar) come from Europe, North America, China, Russia, Poland and Kenya.

There are high expectations for two films coming from Asia, Changhen Ge by Chinese director Stanley Kwan and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance from Korean director Park Chan Wook.

A golden lion will be awarded to film actress Stefania Sandrelli in recognition of her 45-year career in the Italian cinema and to Hayao Miyazaki from Japan, founder of Studio Ghibli, one of the most famous creators of animated films.

If 19 films is not enough there are a further 18 new films from around the world not taking part in the competition, and a retrospective of 15 Chinese and Japanese films made between 1926 1990 entitled The secret history of Asian cinema.

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