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29 Jul 2011

Madonna's film about King Edward VIII's romance with American divorcee Wallis Simpson will have its world premiere at this year's Venice Film Festival.

W.E, which the singer directed, screens out of competition at the event, which runs from 31 August to 10 September.

British actress Andrea Riseborough plays Mrs Simpson in the film, which contrasts her scandalous relationship with a contemporary romance.

In all, 21 titles will compete for the prestigious Golden Lion award.

The new film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - starring Gary Oldman as John le Carre's legendary spy George Smiley - features in the competition line-up.

It is joined by Andrea Arnold's new adaptation of Wuthering Heights, Roman Polanski's new film Carnage, and Shame, the latest film from Turner Prize winner-turned-director Steve McQueen.

Other titles in contention include A Dangerous Method, David Cronenberg's new film about the conflict between the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender play Freud and Jung, while Keira Knightley plays a troubled patient who comes between them.

Fassbender also appears in Shame, a family drama about a wayward brother and sister in which he stars opposite Carey Mulligan.

Polanski's and Cronenberg's films are both based on plays, by Yasmina Reza (God of Carnage) and Christopher Hampton (The Talking Cure) respectively.

Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster appear in Carnage, about two sets of parents who come together after their children fight at school.

New works from Abel Ferrara, Exorcist director William Friedkin and 'indie' film-maker Todd Solondz further swell the diverse line-up.

As previously announced, this year's festival will open with The Ides of March, a political drama which Venice regular George Clooney directs, produces, co-writes and appears in - also in contention.

Actor Al Pacino will be honoured at the event, while Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky will chair the competition jury.

Pacino's film Wilde Salome - an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's notorious 1891 play - will receive an out of competition screening, as will Steven Soderbergh's virus-based thriller Contagion.

The festival will close with Damsels in Distress, the latest feature from US film-maker Whit Stillman - his first film as writer-director since 1998's The Last Days of Disco.

The festival in Venice, together with the Toronto Film Festival - which runs concurrently - are often used as launch-pads for films hoping to triumph during the forthcoming awards season.

Last year's festivities saw Sofia Coppola - daughter of US film-maker Francis - receive the Golden Lion for her semi-autobiographical drama Somewhere.


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