Jean Catuffe/INF; Jason Kempin/FilmMagic
August 29, 2007 07:00 AM

Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley are among those expected to hit the red carpet at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which kicks off Wednesday.

Some 15 films from the U.S. and seven from the U.K. are among the 57 features – chosen from more than 3,000 – screening at the fest, which opens with Atonement, starring Knightley. Its director, Joe Wright, also did Pride & Prejudice, which got the actress her first Oscar nomination.

Among the U.S. films in competition: Michael Clayton starring Clooney, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, with Pitt, and Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There, the Bob Dylan biopic where Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Christian Bale and – yes – Cate Blanchett all take turns playing the folk rocker at different stages of his life.

Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited starring Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody, is also on the list. Wilson, who was hospitalized Sunday, was originally expected to appear at the film’s Venice premiere Sept. 3.

Among the British films premiering is Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Sleuth, starring Michael Caine (who starred with Laurence Olivier in the original 1972 version) and Jude Law – aka Alfies past and present.

The Nanny Diaries, starring Johannson, will be shown out of competition. Johannson’s adored director Woody Allen is also expected at the festival – with his film Cassandra’s Dream (starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) and not the untitled project he’s currently filming with Johannson, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Quentin Tarantino will host the festival’s Spaghetti Western sidebar, featuring 32 restored prints of films from the ’60s genre, featuring tales of the Old West – shot in Italy and Spain.

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