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Venice Film Festival marks 75th anniversary

The Venice Film Festival opens its 75th anniversary edition Wednesday with an all-world premiere competition for the coveted Golden Lion and a cascade of stars including George Clooney, Keira Knightley and Woody Allen.

In their constant search for new talent and cinematic trends, the organizers of the world's oldest running film festival reached out to young directors this year.

Opening the 11-day festival is "Atonement," the screen adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling novel starring Knightley and James McAvoy and directed by 35-year-old Joe Wright. Venice closes Sept. 8 with the Hong Kong-Taiwanese gangster-thriller "Blood Brothers" by first-time director Alexi Tan.

But some Venice veterans will be making a return, including Oscar-winning director Ang Lee, who, two years after previewing "Brokeback Mountain" at the Lido returns with "Lust, Caution," a Chinese-language spy-thriller set in World War II.

Venice always courts controversy, and this year it centered around the organizers' notation of Lee's film as originating from "Taiwan, China." Taiwan complained that the label suggests the self-ruled island is part of mainland China.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to retake it by force. Taiwanese officials blamed China for the notation.

The film festival press office told The Associated Press that they list the countries as given by the production house.

This year's lineup boasts some of the most eagerly anticipated new films of the fall film season - many making their world premieres at the Lido. More than 90 percent of the 57 featured films and all of the 22 films competing for the Golden Lion are premiers.

Under director Marco Mueller, who took over four years ago, the festival also has earned a reputation for spawning major award contenders: Films launched at Venice over the last three years have garnered 51 Oscar nominations.

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