Opposition to the war in Iraq took on a cinematic twist this weekend, as Venice's film festival focussed its attention on the plight of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers in the unstable country.

Yesterday Paul Haggis' anti-war movie In the Valley of Elah received its premiere at the festival. It tells the story of a bereaved father seeking to discover the cause of his son's death in Iraq and the harrowing secrets he uncovers.

Director Paul Haggis said that the movie intends to be political without being partisan, raising questions rather than demanding answers.

"During the Vietnam war, we had terrific journalists doing their job, reporting on things that we didn't want to hear... Now we don't have that. I think that when that doesn't happen, then it's the responsibility of the artist to ask those difficult questions," the Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

Star Charlize Theron, speaking in Venice to promote the film, upped the political ante by saying she wants to see the withdrawal of troops from the country.

"Nothing would give me more joy than to see… [US troops] back in America," the Oscar-winning actress said.

"Hopefully they can come back and be looked after, that's the least we can do for them."

This year's Venice film festival is struggling to avoid the Iraq issue.

In the Valley of Elah's premiere comes one day after that of Brian De Palma's Redacted. This seeks to show how the media is distorting the truth in the country, concentrating on their portrayal of the rape of a teenager and the murder of her whole family.

02/09/2007 12:24:29