Woody Opens Venice Film Fest
08/27/2003 AT 04:12 PM EDT
"Last year I went to the Cannes Film Festival because the French people have been so supportive of my films...and I think I had to make some gesture of affection in return," said Allen, 68. "And I feel the same way with the Italians. They are extremely supportive of my movies over the years and they have invited my to the film festival many times and I always make an excuse and don't come. But I just owed it to the Italian people and French people to come to these festivals out of reciprocity for my movies."
Although Allen's last film, "Hollywood Ending," premiered at Cannes last year, his previous eight films debuted at the Venice festival, the Associated Press noted. Allen himself, however, has stayed away from the event -- though not from the city itself: He wed wife Soon-Yi there in 1997, and he has contributed to the effort to rebuild the fire-scarred La Fenice opera house.
The Venice fest, which will screen more than 140 works over the next two weeks, expects red carpet showings from numerous A-list stars, including Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek, Nicole Kidman, George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.