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Published:August 30th, 2007 01:17 EST
Venice Film Festivals 75th Anniversary

Venice Film Festivals 75th Anniversary

By SOP newswire

The British film Atonement kicked off festivities at the 75th anniversary edition of the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday. The 11-day festival will see Chinese director Zhang Yimou, two-time Golden Lion winner for The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Not One Less (1999), head the jury and Chinese helmers, including Jiang Wen and Ang Lee, vie for the top prize.

Atonement, the film adaptation of British writer Ian McEwan's best-selling romance novel, tells of how a sensitive girl's tragic misunderstanding of events at an upper-class English home leads to a terrible crime whose consequences continue throughout World War II. 

Ang Lee, who won a Golden Lion for Brokeback Mountain in 2005, joined Atonement director Joe Wright, Keira Knightley and co-star James McAvoy on the red carpet at the film festival's opening gala.

British director Kenneth Branagh and mystery thriller Sleuth actors Michael Caine and Jude Law were also on hand as well as Tony Gilroy, director of legal drama Michael Clayton starring George Clooney.

Lee is in Venice presenting his new erotic spy-thriller Lust, Caution, receiver of a NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. There are two other Chinese films to watch out for among the 22 selected, including Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises and Lee Kang Sheng's Help Me Eros.

The Hong Kong-Taiwan gangster film Blood Brothers, directed by newbie director Alexi Tan and produced by John Woo, will close the Venice film festival on September 8. 

Furthermore, The Obscure by Chinese director Lu Yue will fly the Chinese flag in the Horizons section while -- Umbrella by Du Haibin and Useless by Jia Zhangke -- will compete for the Horizons Documentary Prize.

All but six of the 57 films will be world premieres, including all 22 films in competition.

Since the Venice film festival has handed best film awards to Chinese directors in its last two outings, people wonder whether it will be three times lucky for China with Zhang Yimou leading the jury. But Zhang told reporters yesterday at the opening that he will judge every film equally and will be utterly unprejudiced.

Other jurors include international acclaimed directors Catherine Breillat, Jane Campion, Emanuele Crialese, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ferzan Ozpetek and Paul Verhoeven. The awards will take place on the closing evening of the festival on September 8. At the ceremony, American director Tim Burton will be presented with a special Golden Lion for lifetime achievement by American actor Johnny Depp, Burton's muse.

Italian master Bernardo Bertolucci will receive a special award marking the 75th anniversary of the festival.

Among the Hollywood names expected to attend the event are George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett and Susan Sarandon.

The Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world, was launched in 1932 and since then has taken place almost every year in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. However, although this year marks the 75th anniversary of the festival, it is its 64th event due to cancellations due to wars and other troubles.

The official selection for Venice Festival 2007 

- Atonement, by Joe Wright (Britain, United States)

- The Darjeeling Limited, by Wes Anderson (United States)

- Sleuth, by Kenneth Branagh (Britain, United States)

- Heya Fawda (Chaos), by Youssef Chahine (Egypt)
- Redacted, by Brian De Palma (United States)

- The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, by Andrew Dominik (United States)

- Nessuna Qualita agli Eroi, by Paolo Franchi (Italy, Switzerland, France)

- Michael Clayton, by Tony Gilroy (United States)

- Nightwatching, by Peter Greenaway (Canada, Poland, The Netherlands, Britain)

- I'm Not There, by Tod Haynes (United States)

- Taiyang Zhaochang Shenqi (The Sun Also Rises), by Jiang Wen (China/Hong Kong, China)

- Bangbang Wo Aishen (Help Me Eros), by Lee Kang Sheng (China/Taiwan, China)

- En la Ciudad de Sylvia, by Jose Luis Guerin (Spain)

- In The Valley Of Elah, by Paul Haggis (United States)

- Se, Jie (Lust, Caution), by Ang Lee (China/Taiwan, China, United States)

- La Graine et le Mulet, by Abdellatif Kechiche (France)

- It's A Free World..., by Ken Loach (Britain, Italy, Germany, Spain)

- L'Ora di Punta (Rush Hour), by Vincenzo Marra (Italy)

- Sukiyaki Western Django, by Miike Takashi (Japan)

- 12, by Nikita Mikhalkov (Russia)

- Il Dolce e l'Amaro, by Andrea Porporati (Italy) 

- Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon, by Eric Rohmer (France, Italy, Spain)