Madonna has thanked ex-husbands Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie for their support of her forays into film directing, just as her latest directorial effort W.E met mixed reviews at the Venice International Film Festival.

The Material Girl praised her ex-husbands as "very talented directors", adding: "They both encouraged me as a director and as a creative person… they were both very supportive."

Madonna's second attempt at film directing after 2008's widely panned Filth and Wisdom – about a cross-dressing Ukrainian immigrant living in London – W.E focuses on the famous romance between American divorcee Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in favour of his romance.

Madonna admitted at a press conference this week that she "obviously [has] some kind of subconscious attraction" to Simpson, the latter being one of the most infamous and criticised American women to ever live in England.

Madonna in Venice at new film W.E premiere

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The 53-year-old said: "I identify with her in that it's very common when people become celebrities or public figures or icons, we are often reduced to a soundbite and you are given a few attributes and then you're not allowed to have any more than that.

"It was important to me, not to make her a saint by any stretch of the imagination because I don't think she was, but to portray her as a human being."

Though various British broadsheets have not been kind to W.E, the critical mauling has not been as widespread as that accompanying Filth and Wisdom, with some reviews allowing that the film is "better than expected".