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American, British films dominate Venice festival lineup

By Hanna Rantala

ROME (Reuters) - New films by British and U.S. directors Terry Gilliam, Stephen Frears, Jonathan Glazer and James Franco will vie for the top prize at this year's Venice Film Festival, organizers said on Thursday.

English-language titles prevail in the lineup of 20 films that will be competing for the Golden Lion award at the 70th edition of the world's oldest film festival, which runs from August 28 to Sept 7.

"There are five American films in competition after the addition of 'Parkland', which is a sign of the vitality and richness of American cinema," festival director Alberto Barbera told reporters.

"The real novelty is represented by three British films in competition. British cinema does not always produce films of such great interest," he said.

Peter Landesman's "Parkland", which recounts the days following U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassination, was only confirmed on the eve of Thursday's news conference, Barbera said.

Other American entries include Franco's adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel "Child of God" and David Gordon Green's "Joe", starring Nicolas Cage.

In the British camp, Frears' "Philomena" stars Judi Dench as a mother in search of the son she gave up, while Gilliam's "The Zero Theorem" sees Christoph Waltz as a reclusive math genius. Glazer's "Under the Skin", with Scarlett Johansson as an alien, is the first feature from the "Sexy Beast" director since 2004's "Birth".

For the first time two documentaries will also feature in the main competition, including Errol Morris's take on former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

As previously announced, the world premiere of Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's space thriller "Gravity", starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, will open the movie showcase.

Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with Clooney as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky spiraling through the blackness of space after disaster strikes their shuttle.

The festival's jury this year is headed by veteran Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, best known for his steamy 1972 movie "Last Tango in Paris".

(Writing by Silvia Aloisi; editing by Mary Milliken and Andrew Hay)

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