Venice festival goes 3-D with ‘Beowulf’

Zhang Yimou to head jury; Haynes, Lee pics to screen

The Venice Film Festival is gearing up for a high-profile edition, with Zhang Yimou on board as jury prexy and Robert Zemekis’ 3-D “Beowulf” leading a Hollywood-heavy pack of titles tipped to unspool.

“One third of the lineup is probably going to be American,” fest topper Marco Muller told Variety Tuesday at the Majestic. “This is going to be among our strongest editions ever.”

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” while Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” is also highly likely to unspool, according to sources.

Talks are ongoing in Cannes with Warner Bros. for “Beowulf” — which stars Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins and Robin Wright Penn — to world preem in Venice, prior to 3-D pic’s November bow Stateside via Paramount.

On the artier Euro front, Ken Loach’s labor drama “These Times” and Eric Rohmer’s “The Romance of Astrea and Celadon” are among locked-in titles. Venice will run Aug. 29-Sept. 8.

Italian entries are still undecided, due to Italy’s fest pileup; Rome and Turin take place in October and November shortly after the Lido event.

Asian entries will include Jiang Wen’s “The Sun Also Rises,” which Muller described as “China’s first Emir Kusturica-like satire,” and a new unspecified work by another Chinese helmer, Venice Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke (“Still Life”), possibly a docu titled “Useless.” Jia heads the Cinefondation and shorts film jury in Cannes.

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

Upcoming Venice jury prexy Zhang — a former two- time Golden Lion winner with “The Story of Qiu Ju” and “Not One Less” — praised Muller in a letter thanking him “for being my staunch supporter” from the start of his career.

Zhang was busy with preparations for the Beijing 2008 Olympics Ceremonies and unable to travel to Cannes.

As previously announced, Tim Burton will receive the Golden Lion for career achievement.

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