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9/11 Film Stirs Controversy

A controversial movie about the Sept. 11 attacks was received enthusiastically at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday, with the audience reportedly giving the longest applause to a segment considered among the most hostile to the United States.

The French-backed project, "11'09"01", consists of short films by 11 international directors. The movie — which includes segments directed by Sean Penn, Ken Loach and Mira Nair — has been accused of being anti-American, which the producers deny.

The film is not to be confused with the film "9/11", produced by French filmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, which was shown on CBS last March, and will be rebroadcast on September 11th at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

At Thursday's screening, the audience of mainly film-industry and media guests applauded after each segment and at the end of the 135-minute film, the ANSA news agency reported.

ANSA said the longest applause was for British filmmaker Loach's segment, which features an exiled Chilean living in Britain who writes a letter to the families of the Sept. 11 victims. He tells them that in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, a U.S.-supported coup d'etat ushered in an era of torture and death.

Another controversial segment is by Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. In it, the ghost of a U.S. Marine who was killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon in 1983 is lectured about destruction caused by U.S. meddling in the world — from Hiroshima to the Middle East.

"11'09"01" also will be shown at the Toronto Film Festival, on Sept. 11. It opens in France and a dozen other countries on that date. There are no immediate plans for a U.S. release.

Other films drawing attention in Venice on Thursday were "Dolls," by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, and Polish director Agnieszka Holland's "Julie Walking Home." They are among 21 movies in competition.

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni was honored for a celebration of his life's work.

On Wednesday night, celebrities including Milla Jovovich, Julie Delpy and Elizabeth Berkeley showed up for an AIDS research fund-raiser on the sidelines of the festival. It raised more than $500,000 for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or AMFAR, officials said Thursday.

The Venice festival began Aug. 29 and ends Sunday.

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