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May 20, 2001 06:31pm
Cannes Fest Tones Down Seamy Side
Source: Reuters/Variety
by: David Rooney

(CANNES) -- The Palme d'Or victory of ``The Son's Room'' represents the first time in 23 years that an Italian film has taken the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

But director Nanni Moretti's success followed another triumph earlier in the week of fellow countryman and auteur Mario Salieri -- in the porn industry's annual Hot d'Or awards.

A veteran of the sector with some 100 titles to his credit as producer and 50 as writer-director, Salieri took the top award Thursday for ``Stavros,'' his erotic opus about a horny Greek tycoon who bears a more than passing resemblance to Aristotle Onassis.

``It was a fantastic evening, enlivened and honored by the presence of Larry Flynt,'' Salieri said. Legendary Hustler publisher Flynt was in town to receive this year's Hot d'Or for career achievement.

Both the porn awards and related news conferences were driven off the Croisette and into a villa outside Cannes this year by mayor Bernard Brochand. As part of an attempt to clean up the image of the Riviera event, the number of scantily clad starlets and booths selling erotic product in the Cannes market also were greatly reduced.

Given the strict Italian laws regarding the production of pornographic material, Salieri, like most of his fellow directors in the thriving national erotica industry, now shoots primarily in France and Spain as well as Hungary and other parts of Central Europe.

Not one to shy away from ambitious, auteurial projects, Salieri is preparing to direct an X-rated version of the Faust legend.

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