Venice taps 'Atonement' as its opener

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ROME -- The 64th annual Venice Film Festival will open with Joe Wright's "Atonement," starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave, organizers said Friday.

Based on Ian McEwan's Booker Prize-winning novel, "Atonement" is a U.K. production, and its choice fits with Venice artistic director Marco Mueller's Festival de Cannes statements that English-language productions will feature heavily at this year's event.

The announcement also follows Mueller's vow to focus on innovative films from up-and-coming directors. An experienced television director, the 35-year-old Wright only has one previous feature under his belt, 2005's "Pride & Prejudice," which was nominated for four Oscars, including best actress for Knightley.

"Atonement," a coming-of-age story set in the 1930s, follows Briony (Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Redgrave), who accuses the boyfriend (McAvoy) of her older sister (Knightley) of a crime he did not commit.

The screenplay was adapted by Christopher Hampton, and the film is produced by Working Title Films.

This year's festival takes place Aug. 29-Sept. 8.
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