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Cindy Crawford, Madonna among stars at Venice Film Festival

Madonna arrives for the "W.E." photocall at the Palazzo Del Cinema during the 68th Venice Film Festival on Sept. 1, 2011, in Venice, Italy.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Madonna arrives for the"W.E." photocall at the Palazzo Del Cinema during the 68th Venice Film Festival on Sept. 1, 2011, in Venice, Italy.

(CBS) Why would a singer and a supermodel show up at the Venice Film Festival?

That's what some were thinking when Madonna and Cindy Crawford were spotted in the Italian city on Wednesday and Thursday.

Pictures: Venice Film Festival 2011
Pictures: "The Ides of March" premieres in Venice

But both had reasons to be there. Madonna was on hand to promote the film "W.E.," her sophomore directorial effort, and Crawford and husband, Rande Gerber came to support friend George Clooney, whose film "The Ides of March" opened the festival on Wednesday night.

Madonna's film tells the story of Wallace Simpson, the two-time American divorcee for whom Britain's King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in 1936. It will make its world premiere out of competition on Thursday.

The singer said the two films examine the same historic period from distinct points of view, according to The Associated Press. She also told a news conference that she identifies with Simpson, because fame often reduces celebrities "to a soundbite."

She added that she received support for the project from both her two director ex-husbands, Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie.

Crawford, meanwhile, walked the red carpet with Gerber at "The Ides of March" premiere on Wednesday, and was spotted on a boat in the Italian city with Clooney and some of his co-stars earlier that day.

Other stars spotted in Venice include Kate Winslet, who was there to promote her film "Carnage" alongside co-stars Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly. Jodie Foster, who also stars in the film, did not join them for the press conference.

Director Roman Polanski was also not on hand to present the film. Polanski, who fled the United States to avoid child sexual abuse charges, steers clear of festivals and other events that might put him in reach of U.S. authorities.