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Photograph: Photo by Tambako The Jaguar, used under CC BY-ND

This year's Venice Film Festival is set to open with a more subdued atmosphere than normal, despite a smattering of Hollywood stars expected at the event, which runs from Wednesday to September 10.

In a sign of respect for the victims of last week's earthquake in central Italy, which left at least 290 dead, the festival's inauguration will not be followed by a traditional gala dinner and reception, organizers said.

As the country remains focused on search and rescue efforts, director Alberto Barbera wrote on Twitter that a fundraising campaign for the victims would run throughout the festival.

The first night is set to jump straight in with A-list actress Emma Stone attending the premiere of "La La Land," a retro jazz musical which also stars Ryan Gosling and is directed by Damien Chazelle, who shot the critically acclaimed Whiplash.

It is one of 20 films competing for the top Golden Lion award.

On Thursday, Wenders is due to unveil the French-language "Les Beaux Jours d'Aranjuez," an adaptation from a play by Austrian Peter Handke featuring a cameo by Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave and also in competition.

Top prize contenders are also cult director Terrence Malick's "Voyage of Time," a documentary on the universe voiced by Cate Blanchett, and fashion-designer-turned-director Tom Ford's "Nocturnal Animals," a thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams.

The in-competition category includes "Jackie," a biopic on Jackie Kennedy played by Natalie Portman; "The Light Between the Oceans," a love story with Michael Fassbender; Emir Kusturica's "On the Milky Road;" and Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival."

Out of competition, the festival will premiere the first two episodes of "The Young Pope," a TV series by Italian Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino featuring Jude Law playing an American cardinal elected to lead the Catholic Church.

"Hacksaw Bridge," a World War II drama directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield, and a remake of classic western "The Magnificent Seven" written by "True Detective" author Nic Pizzolatto, are among other attractions in out-of-competition screenings.

The Venice festival has suffered increasing competition from rival events in Toronto and New York. But in the last three editions it managed the feat of premiering three films that went on to win big at the Oscars: "Gravity," "Birdman" and "Spotlight."

This year's edition, the 73rd, will celebrate French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski with life-time awards, and honour with special screenings the directors Michael Cimino and Abbas Kiarostami, who both died in July.

British director Sam Mendes leads the nine-member jury that will announce prizes on September 10.

Venezuelan filmmaker Lorenzo Vigas, who won the Golden Lion last year with "From Afar," is also on the panel, alongside actresses Zhao Wei from China and Nina Hoss from Germany, Italian crime writer and judge Giancarlo De Cataldo and US documentary maker Joshua Oppenheimer.

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