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Wagner steers at Venice

'M:I3' producer among Lion of the Future judges

The Venice Film Festival has enlisted producer Paula Wagner to head the jury awarding its Lion of the Future prize for first-time filmmakers, while Teutonic helmer Philip Groening will be jury chief for the cutting-edge Venice Horizons.

Wagner, Tom Cruise’s production partner, was recently in Italy for the Rome world preem of J.J. Abrams’ “Mission: Impossible 3.”

Wagner’s jury will select the best first work from those unspooling across all fest sections. The E100,000 ($127,000) prize is funded by Italo producer Aurelio de Laurentiis in memory of his father Luigi. Winner also receives 65,000 feet of Kodak film stock.

Groening, whose docu “Into Great Silence,” about life in a Carthusian monastery in the French Alps, preemed last year in Horizons, will deliver verdicts for the Horizons Prize and the Horizons Doc prize.

Headed for the third year by Marco Muller, the 63rd Venice fest will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

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