‘Atonement’ to open Venice

'There,' 'Caution' also set to unspool

ROME – British helmer Joe Wright’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” will open the 64th Venice Film Festival as a film in competition.

Wright’s sophomore follow-up to “Pride and Prejudice” will world preem on the Lido on Aug. 29, with key talent Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave expected on the red carpet.

The “Atonement” launch will be followed by a gala party on the Excelsior beach thrown by the Venice Biennale and Universal Pictures.

Produced by Paul Webster, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner for Working Title, drama centers around a haunting mistaken accusation made by a 13-year-old girl. Pic will be released Sept. 14 in the U.K. via Universal and goes out Stateside on Dec. 7.

“For the first time in the festival’s history, the opening film is by such a young director,” said Venice topper Marco Mueller. Wright is 35.

While Blighty takes on a prominent role in the Lido’s upcoming edition, Mueller has recently underscored that there will be a strong U.S. presence at the fest, which runs Aug. 29-Sept. 8.

Yank pics locked in for a Lido launch at this stage are Todd Haynes’ highly anticipated Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” and Ang Lee’s espionage thriller “Lust, Caution.” Also highly likely to unspool are Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood,” Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” and Woody Allen’s “Cassandra’s Dream.”

On the artier Euro front, Ken Loach’s labor drama “These Times” and Eric Rohmer’s “The Romance of Astrea and Celadon” are believed to be among titles set for a Lido berth.

Asian entries will include Jiang Wen’s “The Sun Also Rises,” which Mueller described as “China’s first Emir Kusturica-like satire,” and an unspecified work by Venice Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke (“Still Life”), possibly a docu titled “Useless.”

Venice’s 60-title lineup will be announced July 26.

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