VENICE, Italy -- The 64th annual Venice Film Festival got under way Wednesday as massive crowds gathered under cloudy skies at the edge of the red carpet and the world premiere of Joe Wright's "Atonement" received a strong reception.
The film's star, Keira Knightley, was the darling of the red carpet, with a scrum of photographers eagerly snapping photos of the actress, who was dressed in a long, pale peach dress with sparkling stars across her hair.
Knightley signed autographs for 10 minutes before entering Venice's Palazzo del Cinema for the opening ceremony. She was joined by Wright and co-stars James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave, and the foursome was greeted by enthusiastic applause as they entered the building.
Inside, the presentations turned to the storied history of the Venice festival, which runs through Sept. 8.
Although this is the 64th edition of the festival, it is the 75th anniversary of the first event, which took place in the lawn of the Lido's nearby Hotel Excelsior in 1932, and presenters used the occasion to look back at the past three quarters of a century.
"The festival has a renewed vigor," Venice Biennale president Davide Croff said. "The festival is fresher, stronger and more international than ever before."