This year's Venice Film Festival will include Kristen Stewart in a sci-fi romance, Idris Elba at war and a thriller starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson, as well as potentially awards-worthy performances from Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Organizers announced a 21-strong competition lineup Wednesday for the festival, which takes over the Italian maritime city's Lido island for 11 days in September.
It includes Drake Doremus' futuristic "Equals,'' with Stewart and Nicholas Hoult; Luca Guadagnino's "A Bigger Splash,'' with Swinton, Johnson and Ralph Fiennes; and Cary Fukunaga's African child-soldier story "Beasts of No Nation,'' starring Elba.
Competition for the top Golden Lion prize also includes Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's animated feature "Anomalisa''; musician Laurie Anderson's "Heart of a Dog''; and "The Danish Girl,'' from "The King's Speech'' director Tom Hooper, which stars 2014 Oscar-winner Redmayne as a transgender woman in the 1920s.
Also among the contenders: "Rabin, The Last Day,'' Amos Gitai's depiction of the 1995 assassination of Israeli leader Yitzakh Rabin; South African director Oliver Hermanus' crime drama "The Endless River''; Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski's "11 Minutes,'' which follows several characters over the titular timeframe; and Argentine director Pablo Trapero's family crime drama "The Clan.''
There are also new films from Canada's Atom Egoyan (''Remember,'' a Nazi-hunting thriller starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau), Russia's Aleksandr Sokurov (the Paris-set "Francofonia'') and Italy's Marco Bellocchio (vampire-themed "Blood of My Blood'').
Out-of-competition entries – which are not in the running for festival prizes but could be Academy Awards contenders – include Scott Cooper's "Black Mass,'' starring Depp as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, and Thomas McCarthy's "Spotlight,'' which features Michael Keaton as the editor of a Boston Globe team investigating clerical sex abuse.
Martin Scorsese will bring "The Audition,'' a short starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, while documentaries include Amy Berg's Janis Joplin biopic "Janis.''
The 72nd Venice festival opens Sept. 2 with the world premiere of Baltasar Kormakur's mountain drama "Everest,'' starring Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright. It runs to Sept. 12, when a jury led by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron will award the Golden Lion for best film and other prizes.
Venice vies as an awards-season springboard with the overlapping Toronto Film Festival, which this year runs Sept. 10-20. Several titles, including "Black Mass'' and "The Danish Girl,'' play at both events.