By Stephen M. Silverman And Liz Corcoran
Updated September 03, 2002 01:00 PM

Pandemonium greeted Harrison Ford and girlfriend Calista Flockhart as they arrived at the 59th Venice Film Festival over the weekend, PEOPLE reports.

The couple’s boat was hotly pursued by paparazzi intent on photographing the pair as they made their way to Venice’s Lido. Nor did the photogs let up at a press conference, where Ford, 60, defended the poor North American ticket sales of his Cold War submarine adventure, “K-19: The Widowmaker.”

“I’m proud to be here to represent the film,” said the star. “I do not consider the box-office showing to be a true measure of the effect of the film. I think it’s going to be around a long, long time.”

Possibly so. But what does seem on sturdier ground is Ford’s relationship with the former “Ally McBeal” star, 36. Ford and Flockhart —- joined by “K-19” costar Liam Neeson and his wife, Natasha Richardson — could hardly keep their eyes off each other at the Venice premiere of the movie.

Also in Venice: Screen legend Sophia Loren, 67, took to the red carpet for a second time, after wowing the crowds at the festival’s opening night last week.

This time the promenade was for the premiere of her 100th movie, “Between Strangers,” a tale of three generations of women directed by Loren’s son, Edoardo Ponti, 29, and also starring Gerard Depardieu and Mira Sorvino.

Despite the film’s favorable reviews (the movie marks Ponti’s directorial debut), Mamma Loren cautioned that her son still “had a long way to go” in his career as a director. Edoardo’s reaction? “Always a mom.”