Hollywood hit Venice for a film festival--and a little romance.

By Stephen Schaefer
Updated September 20, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

You could say the stars moored in the canals of Venice, where the city’s 59th film festival wrapped Sept. 8, for the movies — but you’d be all wet. It was about amore.

”I’m here with the love of my life,” said Milla Jovovich, who made the scene with beau Paul Anderson, her Resident Evil director. ”It’s so incredible, especially when you’re in love.” Elizabeth Berkley, whose indie Roger Dodger drew lavish praise, was so moved by her environs that she gushed about her recent engagement to Ralph Lauren’s artist/actor nephew Greg. ”If you don’t feel here,” said Berkley, ”then you don’t have any feelings.”

Harrison Ford, in town for the European premiere of K-19: The Widowmaker, caused more waves than a gondola, turning up with ex-Ally Calista Flockhart. Even Salma Hayek, who received a standing ovation after the world premiere of Frida, was distracted by romance. She took time out from the applause to call boyfriend Edward Norton, appearing Off Broadway in Burn This. ”He told me to tape the ovation, and I forgot,” she said. ”So I called him in the middle of it so he would hear.”

The fest wasn’t without controversy. Some called 11’09”01 — a collection of 11 shorts (including one directed by Sean Penn) — anti-American. And The Magdalene Sisters, about women of alleged ill repute imprisoned in Irish convents in the 1960s, was awarded the top prize (the Golden Lion), picked up for distribution by Miramax, and trashed by the Vatican. Still, celebs celebrated fairer things. ”It’s beauty everywhere you look,” said Tom Hanks, attending Europe’s Road to Perdition premiere. ”And every now and then you get to meet Catherine Deneuve backstage.”