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Clooney, Madonna to Screen Own Movies at Venice Film Festival

Movies directed by George Clooney and Madonna will get red-carpet premieres at this year’s Venice Film Festival, with Madonna’s recounting the love story between the American divorcee Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII.

The festival opens Aug. 31 with Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” about a naive press spokesman who gets caught in an ugly web of backroom politics during a presidential campaign, organizers said at a Rome news conference. Clooney is in the cast, as are Ryan Gosling and Paul Giamatti.

Also premiering at Venice are Roman Polanski’s “Carnage,” starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, about two sets of parents who meet to discuss their sons’ school spat; and Al Pacino’s “Wilde Salome,” his take on Oscar Wilde and his play “Salome.” Pacino co-stars with Jessica Chastain (recently seen in Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.”)

In a festival media release, Pacino described the film as his “most personal project.”

“I wouldn’t want to present ‘Wilde Salome’ in any other place but Venice,” said Pacino, who has Italian roots.

Madonna’s “W.E.,” which she also wrote, has a dual plot: It’s about the 1930s affair that led King Edward VIII to renounce the British throne for Wallis (Andrea Riseborough), and about a modern-day wife who falls for a Russian security guard.

Clooney and Polanski will both compete for the top Venice prize, the Golden Lion. So will the U.K. artist-director Steve McQueen, with “Shame” -- the story of a promiscuous young man whose errant little sister (Carey Mulligan) moves in. The lead is played by Michael Fassbender, who was Bobby Sands in McQueen’s previous work, “Hunger,” about Northern Ireland.

Out of the official competition is director Steven Soderbergh with “Contagion,” an action movie about a deadly global pandemic. Matt Damon, Winslet and Jude Law star.

The festival, which takes place on Venice’s Lido Island, ends Sept. 10.

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