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UK film proves hit of Venice festival

“Philomena” took the Venice Film Festival by storm yesterday, hailed as a frontrunner for the Golden Lion award with its tragi-comic tale of a mother’s search for her son.

The British film, starring Judi Dench as mother Philomena Lee and comic actor Steve Coogan as the ex-BBC journalist who helps her in her quest, drew laughs, tears and rounds of spontaneous applause.

Frears, director of the award-winning “The Queen,” took to the red carpet along with Dench and Coogan later yesterday.

Based on the true story recounted in Martin Sixsmith’s 2009 book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee,” the film tells the tale of a teenage girl who falls pregnant in Ireland in 1952 and is packed off to a convent. Her baby son is given up for adoption and all trace of him is lost.

Ex-journalist Sixsmith, at a loose end after being sacked as a government spin doctor, decides to help, sparking an unlikely alliance between an Oxbridge wise-cracker and a feisty Irish pensioner.



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