JULIE TAYMOR’S interpretation of THE TEMPEST is a gender flipped fantasy film, with HELEN MIRREN playing the lead in the take on the Shakespearean classic.

The film was unveiled out of competition Saturday in the final hours of the VENICE FILM FESIVAL, which was awarding the GOLDEN LION in a gala evening ceremony.

JULIE TAYMOR switches the sex of the traditionally male sorcerer role Prospero to the female Prospera for ACADEMY AWARD winner HELEN MIRREN.

The director called SHAKESPEARE’S last play the Bard’s “most visual,” lending itself easily to an adaptation on the big screen. Ms. Taymor has also adapted SHAKESPEARE’S TITUS for film.

HELEN said it was her love of SHAKESPEARE that drew her to acting.

“I never wanted to be a movie star or on TV. I wanted to be a classical Shakespearean actress.”

She recalled how while she was watching the play in a theatre a few years ago, “I thought this could be played as a woman without changing dialogue and very few of (Shakespeare’s) plays allow for that. Then a year or two later Julie and I met.”

The two decided to work together. When Ms. Taymor asked her what role she’d like to play, HELEN told her Prospero. The director replied that she always thought the role could be played by a woman.

“I let my instinct take over and I knew I was with a great, great visionary director and could just go with the flow,” HELEN commented.

THE TEMPEST features the original score of OSCAR winning composer ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL – occasionally tinged with rock & roll – which suitably enriches the film. It also includes performances by ACADEMY AWARD winner CHRIS COOPER and OSCAR nominees TOM CONTI and DAVID STRATHAIRN.

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