Entertainment & Arts

Venice Film Festival kicks off with Birdman

Birdman director Alejandro Inarritu with Michael Keaton and Emma Stone Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Birdman director Alejandro Inarritu with Michael Keaton and Emma Stone at Wednesday's premiere

The Venice Film Festival has kicked off in Italy with Birdman, a comedy drama about an actor trying to escape the shadow of a famous superhero role.

Former Batman actor Michael Keaton joined the rest of the film's stars on the Lido at the world premiere that launched this year's 12-day event.

Birdman is one of 20 titles up for the Golden Lion, the festival's main award.

French composer Alexandre Desplat heads this year's jury, which also includes the British actor Tim Roth.

Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell and Palestinian film-maker Elia Suleiman are also members of the nine-strong panel.

Other films they will assess include Al Pacino's latest outing Manglehorn; Abel Ferrera's new film about Italian director Paolo Pasolini; and Good Kill, starring Ethan Hawke as a US military drone pilot.

The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to his harrowing 2012 documentary The Act of Killing, is the only UK co-production in the main competition line-up.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption French actress Julie Gayet was among the guests at Wednesday's event

Films that will screen out of competition include The Sound and the Fury, James Franco's adaptation of the William Faulkner novel, and a longer version of the second half of Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac.

The festival will close with The Golden Era, a three-hour biopic about a radical writer from the 1900s directed the Hong Kong film-maker Ann Hui.

Attendees at Wednesday's opening night gala included Julie Gayet, the French actress whose affair with France's president Francois Hollande made headlines around the world.

Venice is the first of the autumn's major international film festivals. Telluride opens on Friday in Colorado, while the Toronto Film Festival gets under way next week in Canada.

In Britain, meanwhile, the Cambridge Film Festival begins its 34th edition on Thursday with a programme that includes the UK premiere of last year's Golden Lion recipient, the Italian documentary Sacro GRA.

Woody Allen's new comedy Magic in the Moonlight, Tommy Lee Jones western The Homesman and A Most Wanted Man starring Philip Seymour Hoffman will also be screened at the event, which runs until 7 September.

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