VENICE WATCH: ‘Beasts’ teen star impresses; Tucci talks food

Abraham Attah
Abraham Attah poses for photographers at the photo call for the film Beasts of No Nation during the 72nd edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The 72nd edition of the festival runs until Sept. 12. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

VENICE, Italy (AP) — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here’s what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press:

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GHANAIAN YOUNGSTER WOWS VENICE:

For the Venice Film Festival’s youngest star, the road to the red carpet began on a school playground in Ghana.

First-time actor Abraham Attah is the compelling center of “Beasts of No Nation,” Cary Fukunaga’s nightmarish drama about a child soldier in an unspecified African civil war.

As Agu, a boy forced to fight for a charismatic militia leader played by Idris Elba, Attah is in almost every scene of the beautifully shot, brutally unsentimental film. Critics are talking of potential awards for both Elba and for 14-year-old Attah, who was chosen from among 600 children seen by the film’s casting director.

“We were playing football on the school field and a white man came and said he needed some boys for a movie,” Attah told reporters Thursday in Venice.

Fukunaga added: “He was playing hooky from school that day.”

Fukunaga, whose work includes gangster drama “Sin Nombre” and TV drama “True Detective,” said Attah impressed during auditions by crying in an improvised scene in which his sister was taken away.

“It just showed that he had access to emotions in a way that we were looking for,” the director said.

Based on a 2005 novel by Uzodinma Iweala, “Beasts of No Nation” has been well-received in Venice, where it’s one of 21 films competing for the top Golden Lion prize. It marks the fiction film debut of streaming service Netflix, which will release it online and in movie theaters on Oct. 16.

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FILMS AND FOOD FUEL STANLEY TUCCI:

Some actors hate the promotional rigmarole of film festivals, with their red carpets and back-to-back interviews. Not Stanley Tucci, who says Venice allows him to combine his two passions: movies and food.

“I love this festival,” the actor said Thursday on a terrace overlooking the Venice lagoon. “It’s a good festival because it’s really about film. And then you can have risotto for lunch.”

—By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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