By NICK HOLDSWORTH
Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant!" premiered in competition on the Lido on Monday with star Matt Damon in tow, giving Venice a big jolt of Hollywood star power.
The human need to lie is at the core of the film, about corporate and personal greed and deceit.
"Lying is important and necessary, although it does take a lot of energy -- which is why I stay thin," Soderbergh quipped Monday at a paparazzi-packed press conference.
"Lying performs an important function. If we all went around telling the truth eventually someone would kill you. What we have to determine for the society we operate in is the scale."
Based on the true story of an American food industry executive who blew the whistle on an international price-fixing scam but who was also a corporate embezzler on a grand scale, "The Informant!" seems particularly apt for the world's current financial and moral malaise.
Damon, who plays pathological liar Mark Whitacre, paid tribute to the economy that Soderbergh brings to his films as a director.
The script was in development for seven years, during which time Damon worked with Soderbergh on three other projects, but took only 30 days to shoot.
"Some days we were shooting eight pages -- almost a TV schedule. Steven cuts the film in his head as he is shooting. The only other director I know who does that is Clint Eastwood," Damon said.
Soderbergh, who made a point of meeting real-life characters in two other films he shot based on true stories -- "Erin Brockovich" and "Che" -- deliberately did not seek out Whitacre.
Whitacre has seen the film and said that he liked it, although, according to Soderbergh's dictum that it takes two to create a lie: the liar and the believer, that statement has to be taken on faith.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood glitz will continue this week when George Clooney tubthumps "The Men Who Stare at Goats."