The 59th Venice Film Festival opens Thursday with Frida, a film about the Mexican artist and revolutionary, Frida Kahlo.
The festival has a reputation of giving movies from smaller countries and lesser-known directors as much attention as big time Hollywood productions.
Thursday's opening feature, produced by Miramax studios, boasts a list of international stars, including Spanish actor Antonio Banderas.
Italian film legend Sophia Loren will attend this year's festival, promoting Between Strangers in which she was directed by her son Edoardo Ponti.
The festival lasts for 10 days, with more than 140 films, including entries from South Korea, Italy, Russia and Japan.