Venice Fest Eyes Awards Season Perch With Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’ Competing As OpenerAlejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, has been selected for opening honors at the Venice Film Festival. When Fox Searchlight set an October 17 North American release, and when Birdman didn’t appear in Cannes, we expected it would get a berth at one of the fall festivals. I felt particularly strongly about Venice, especially as it makes a nice dovetail to last year when Iñárritu’s pal Alfonso Cuaron did opening night honors with Gravity. That film went on to a huge awards season run, but it was not in competition in Venice, and that was lamented across the board. The world premiere screening of Birdman on August 27 is IN competition, and looks like a sign that Venice wants to stand out further. It is increasingly seen as a launchpad for some of the major titles that will figure in the awards races later in the year. But, it competes heavily with Telluride and Toronto which overlap the event. The former last year even ruffled Venice’s feathers by programming some big-ticket titles before their Lido premieres. Also of note, Gravity‘s Oscar winning cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, shot Birdman.

inarrituOscar-nominated Babel director Iñárritu’s first black comedy stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan and Andrea Riseborough. Keaton plays an actor, famous for having portrayed an iconic superhero, who struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego as he attempts to recover his family, his career and himself. (see trailer below)

Iñárritu wrote the screenplay with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr and Armando Bo. The producers are Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan and James W. Skotchdopole. Birdman is a Fox Searchlight Pictures/New Regency presentation of a New Regency/M Productions/Le Grisbi production.

The helmer’s 21 Grams previously ran in Venice with Sean Penn winning the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. In 2007, Iñárritu was on the Venice jury. The 71st edition of Venice runs from August 27-September 6. The full lineup of films will be announced on July 24. Here’s the Birdman trailer: