Men work at the Casino at Venice Lido, a day before the opening of the 64th Venice International Film Festival. The Festival feature 61 films in the 3 main sections which 55 world premieres and 6 international premieres.[AFP]
Creative tension will be in the air Wednesday as the 75th anniversary edition of the Venice Film Festival kicks off with the psychological drama "Atonement" by Britain's Joe Wright.
Based on the best-selling novel by Ian McEwan and starring Keira Knightley, whom Wright also directed in "Pride and Prejudice," the film also features Vanessa Redgrave, 70, who plays Knightley's character in later years.
Also Wednesday, Ang Lee will unveil his greatly anticipated erotic spy thriller "Se, Jie" (Lust, Caution), set in Shanghai in the 1940s.
Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" took the top prize in Venice in 2005.
This year's Mostra, which runs through September 8, has a bumper crop of American and British selections, while also remaining true to its tradition of showcasing Asian cinema.
Nine of the 22 films in the main competition are British or American, including Kenneth Branagh's mystery thriller "Sleuth" with Michael Caine and Jude Law, and Ken Loach's "It's a Free World."
Chinese director Jiang Wen will offer "Taiyang Zhaochang Shengqi" (The Sun Also Rises), a quartet of stories that dovetail together in the end. From Japan there is Miike Takashi's "Sukiyaki Western Django," a complex tale of dirty tricks, betrayal, desire and love.
All 22 of the films in competition will be world premieres, a feat achieved only once before -- last year.
Another 22 films will vie for prizes in the avant-garde Horizons and Horizons Documentaries categories, while 13 will be screened out of competition.
George Clooney stars in "Michael Clayton" by Tony Gilroy, while Brad Pitt plays Jesse James in Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."
Contemporary life and war are common threads to many of this year's selections.
The war in Iraq inspired Brian De Palma's "Redacted," which portrays the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager by US soldiers, as well as Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah," in which a career military man played by Tommy Lee Jones investigates the disappearance of his son, a soldier in Iraq.
Co-starring with Jones are Susan Sarandon and Charlize Theron.
The out-of-competition menu will offer Woody Allen's latest film "Cassandra's Dream," a drama set in south London, "La Fille Coupee en Deux" by French veteran Claude Chabrol and a new comedy by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, "Kantoku Banzai!" (Glory to the Filmmaker!).
Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who won Golden Lions for "The Story of Qiu Ju" (1992) and "Not One Less" (1999), will head the jury of this year's edition of the Mostra.
All but six of the 57 films will be world premieres, including an unusually large number -- 15 -- of the 19 American selections.
Welsh director Peter Greenaway will offer "Nightwatching," which revolves around Rembrandt's most famous work, while Quentin Tarantino stars in Takashi Miike's Japanese-style western "Sukiyaki Western Django."
Tarantino will also host a retrospective of spaghetti westerns featuring 30 examples of the genre.