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Al Pacino honored in Venice, presents new film

Sep 4, 2011, 9:29 a.m.
Director and actor Al Pacino signs autographs as he leaves after a news conference of his film "Wilde Salome" at the 68th Venice Film Festival September 4, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - Hollywood veteran Al Pacino is honoured by the Venice film festival on Sunday with a special prize and the presentation of his latest directorial project "Wilde Salome."

Even at such a star-studded festival, where the likes of George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna have walked the red carpet this year, Pacino drew large crowds of screaming fans and autograph hunters to the Lido island.

He receives the Jaeger Lecoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award at a gala awards ceremony.

Wilde Salome is part documentary about the staging of Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde's play "Salome" starring rising star Jessica Chastain, part an exploration of the author and part film version of Salome itself.

Pacino, one of the giants of cinema with eight Oscar nominations including one win to his name, admitted to being a little confused about what type of picture he had made.

"I guess what I tried to do is ... create a story," Pacino told reporters in Venice after the film was shown to the press.

"But I don't know what it is. I like to say it's a documentary because it's not a film, but then it's not a documentary either, so I'm confused too."

The 71-year-old said that making movies for himself, some of which remain hidden away never to be shown, made him fall in love with cinema years ago and become a better actor.

"As soon as I started making my own films, I actually became easier on directors," he explained.

"Because I was very difficult at first. I really didn't know the medium, I didn't know what the needs of a director were. Once I started, the magic of movies came into my life."

The star of films including "The Godfather" and "Scent of a Woman" added that, unlike Orson Welles, he did not abandon the theater once he discovered movies, but continued with both disciplines.

Pacino said Wilde, who was hounded for his homosexuality at the end of the 19th century, was a fascinating subject.

"We do know that he was ... a very liberal thinker and more than that he was a visionary in terms of his feeling for people and how he wanted society to be more humane and that he was really on dangerous ground at that time.

"Part of his sexuality was what they used against him to put him away. They wanted to silence him."

Asked what the future held, Pacino replied:

"I have movies that are still coming at me and I always say that I'm going to be selective. I always say that, but I never am.

"I'm saying again -- 'I'm going to do it only when I feel it's the thing to do for me.' I hope I follow that philosophy. That's my future. It's blank."

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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