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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Stars out for Venice film opening
Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley stars with James McAvoy in Atonement

Stars have been arriving at the Venice Film Festival, which opened with the British film Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

This year's gala - celebrating its 75th anniversary - also sees the premiere of Kenneth Branagh's thriller Sleuth, with Sir Michael Caine and Jude Law.

Among the arrivals on the first day were Rupert Everett and Vanessa Redgrave and director Jane Campion.

The key winners will be unveiled at the festival's climax on 8 September.

Ang Lee, who won the festival's top prize - the coveted Golden Lion - in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain, will unveil his new film Lust, Caution.

Oscar potential

Film-maker Tim Burton, whose credits include Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas, will be honoured with the Golden Lion lifetime achievement award.

A scene from Lust, Caution
Atonement - by British director Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, based on Ian McEwan's novel.
Lust, Caution (pictured) - from Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, who won Venice's Golden Lion in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain.
Sleuth - remake of 1972 thriller from British director Kenneth Branagh, starring Sir Michael Caine and Jude Law.
I'm Not There - charts the life of Bob Dylan using different actors including Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett.
It's A Free World - director Ken Loach's film about migrant labour in the UK.

Other films in the main competition include Michael Clayton, a thriller starring George Clooney, while Brad Pitt is expected in the Italian city for the debut of his western, The Assassination of Jesse James.

Woody Allen's latest project, Cassandra, will also be shown, with an appearance by its stars Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor.

A series of Spaghetti westerns, curated by director Quentin Tarantino will also run throughout the festival.

For the first time a prize for a film with a gay theme or characters will be awarded.

Atonement, based on the best-selling novel by Ian McEwan, is only the second feature film from 35-year-old director Joe Wright.

The film is already being touted as having Oscar potential, including the performance of Keira Knightley.

Atonement cast
The Atonement cast includes Vanessa Redgrave (left) and James McAvoy (right)
Knightley told a Venice news conference that McEwan's novel was "a beautifully drawn character study".

At last year's Venice festival, Dame Helen Mirren took the best actress prize for her role in The Queen, and went on to win a host of honours culminating in an Oscar.

Taiwan protest

Taiwanese authorities have protested about the festival listing Ang Lee's film as originating from Taiwan, China - suggesting the island state is still part of the People's Republic.

China and Taiwan set up separate governments in 1949, but Beijing still considers Taiwan as part of its territory.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council blamed China for influencing the festival programme, saying "the black hand of China has entered the pure world of art" in a statement on its website.

China's state-run China Film Group, which is distributing Lust, Caution on the mainland, said they were not involved in any lobbying to secure the Taiwan, China label.

Atonement tests Knightley's fame
28 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
Festival to offer gay film prize
01 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
Spaghetti westerns head to Venice
26 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
Knightley film to kick off Venice
15 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Burton honoured with Venice prize
22 Mar 07 |  Entertainment
Mirren crowned 'queen' at Venice
09 Sep 06 |  Entertainment

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