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The 69th Venice Film Festival has opened with a gala ceremony.

The festival’s grand jury features stars of the screen from all corners of the globe.

A symbolic empty chair was on stage for the absent Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who was jailed two years ago on charges of acting against national security.

Other jury members include US director Michael Mann and actress Kate Hudson.

They will vote to decide which movie will pick up the Golden Lion prize, the award handed to the festival’s best offering.

This year’s event, which runs until September 8, will show a total of 52 films.

It kicked off with the world premiere of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Indian director Mira Nair.

The thriller tells the tale of a young Pakistani man who becomes torn between East and West after the September 11 attacks.

American intelligence later target him, suspecting he has links to radical Islamist groups.

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