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ROME (Reuters) - World premieres by directors Sofia Coppola and Darren Aronofsky as well as the hotly anticipated adaptation of cult novel "Barney's Version" will be among the highlights of this year's Venice film festival.
Twenty-three movies, including a surprise title yet to be unveiled, will vie for the top Golden Lion award at the 67th edition of the world's oldest film festival, with Quentin Tarantino heading the jury that will pick the winner.
Independent cinema and young directors -- the average age of film-makers in competition is 47 -- dominate the main lineup, which is slimmer than last year's and features five U.S. films.
Aronofsky, who won the Golden Lion in 2008 with "The Wrestler," will be opening the festival with "Black Swan," a psychological thriller set in the ballet world, starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder.
Francis Ford Coppola's daughter Sofia, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay with "Lost in Translation," will be returning to the Lido seafront with "Somewhere," the story of a jaded actor and his estranged young daughter.
Richard J. Lewis brings to the screen Mordecai Richler's book "Barney's Version," with Paul Giamatti playing the politically incorrect and irascible lead role.
Films by Vincent Gallo, Julian Schnabel and Abdellatif Kechiche will also be screening in the main competition, which includes four Italian movies and a mix of titles from Japan, China, Russia, Greece and Chile.
Elsewhere, Helen Mirren stars in Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," while Ben Affleck will be presenting crime drama "The Town" -- where he is both director and actor. His younger brother Casey Affleck will also be in Venice, with a documentary on Joaquin Phoenix.
Organizers said that, mirroring the more sober atmosphere in the industry after the financial crisis, the films screening this year are generally shorter than in the past.
The festival, which has a budget of 12 million euros ($16 million) and often serves as a launching pad for the Oscar awards, runs from September 1-11.
Editing by Steve Addison