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Italy does not let anything get in the way of a good time - it would not even let WWII interrupt the famous Venice Film Festival.

The prestigious Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world; it has been running annually since 1932. And it is just so ridiculously alluring, you have to get there at least once in your life. It was founded by a count and takes place on the island of the Lido, Venice, in the sunny weeks of late August or early September.

It used to be entirely Italian, but now the menu has opened up and many Oscar-tempting films make it in, along with the red carpet fashion smackdown. In 2010, the program featured movies by US directors like Vincent Gallo, Robert Rodriguez, Darren Oronofsky and Sofia Coppola, as well as a bash honouring Quentin Tarantino and some red carpet sparklers from Jessica Alba and Natalie Portman.

Every odd-numbered year, the festival coincides with the Venice Biennale, so if you really want to up your chances of rubbing shoulders with the big guns of art and film, that would be your time to go.

Want a slice of the full-tilt film festival experience? First, put on your oversized shades. Be impervious. Be fabulous. Check yourself into the unfathomably glamorous Hotel Excelsior, where you can get an exclusive assisted transfer from Marco Polo International Airport - yes, we are talking porter assistance and private water taxis. The Hotel is also the location of the festival's Style Star Lounge - a 300-square-metre space-age candy store of elegant swanning, where stars are interviewed, presentations are made, films are screened and ice cubes twinkle like stardust in cocktails. Say, is that Catherine Deneuve? Boy, she looks good! Oh hey Quentin! Hey Dustin! Loved your movie!

Of course, the Hotel Excelsior will make your credit card cower and the Star Style Lounge is of the strictest invitation-only. So unless you actually are Tarantino, you might not need to fit this stop on your list - yet.

But hey - you can still go to the films. And the Biennale (get an artist's tips). And really, that pricey champagne is not all the great. Plus, if you follow a few tips on how to do Venice on a shoestring, you may be able to save some money to splurge on a customised Vespa that says "Call my agent".

 

© 2010 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Roll cameras! Visiting Venice for the film festival’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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