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September 2, 2002
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Italian screen goddess Sophia Loren has returned to the Venice Film Festival for the first time in over 40 years, in what is being hailed by the local press as tantamount to a second coming. Wearing an off-the shoulder black chiffon Armani outfit, Sophia sashayed up to the stage, on the arm of her director son Edoardo Ponti, to pick up the Bianchi Award for lifetime achievement on Friday.

The 67-year-old actress, who last visited the event in 1958 when she won the Best Actress gong for Black Orchid, is the star turn at this year’s event. Sophia is also in town to publicise Edoardo’s first film Between Strangers,in which she takes the lead role. The film had its world premiere at the festival.

Although critical reaction to the movie was mixed, public and press appetite for the actress’s appearance has been voracious and an extra festival screening has had to be organised. In Between Strangers, Sophia plays a mature woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a disabled, bitter and controlling husband, played by Britain’s Peter Postlethwaite. Her on-screen look in the film – she wears very little make-up and a grey-streaked wig – was in marked contrast to her ultra-glamorous appearance at the screening.

One of the few screen legends still working today, Sophia also took time out from her duties to complain that the current generation of leading ladies were “too thin and boring”. “They do not make stars like they used to,” she said. “Every girl looks so thin, no personality, as if they have come off the production line. Think of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. How can you forget their faces?”

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Photo: ©
After a 44-year absence, Sophia is the star turn at this year's Venice Film Festival and is seen here at the presentation for her son Edoardo Ponti's film Between StrangersPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
One of the few screen legends still working today, Sophia says that the current generation of leading ladies are “too thin and boring”Photo: © AFP