Damien Chazelle’s True Astronaut Epic ‘First Man’ Is Venice Film Festival Opener

The fall film festival pieces are starting to move.
Venice Opener Is Damien Chazelle's True Astronaut Epic 'First Man'
Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle
Stewart Cook/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

While Damien Chazelle anxiously labors away in the editing room on his final cut of Universal’s space epic “First Man,” he will now have to finish it in time for the opening of the 75th annual Venice International Film Festival (August 29 – September 8). Chazelle’s “La La Land” also opened Venice in 2016 en route to winning six Oscars, including Best Director.

Starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the mission movie focuses on the astronaut’s preparation for his then-unimaginable 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and historic walk. Claire Foy (“The Crown”) costars along with Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Ciaran Hinds, Christopher Abbott, and Patrick Fugit.

Last year Venice opened with Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing,” which scored Supporting Actress SAG and Golden Globe nominations for Hong Chau; recent Oscar winners include openers “Birdman,” “Gravity,” and “Black Swan.” The Competition jury is headed by Guillermo del Toro, who debuted “The Shape of Water” in Venice ahead of his four Oscar wins, including Best Picture.

Film festival pieces are starting to fall into place; Wednesday the New York Film Festival announced Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” (Netflix) as its centerpiece gala, but still has to select its opener and closer. “Roma” is expected to premiere at Venice, along with Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” (Warner Bros.). The Toronto International Film Festival will announce its first programming news next week.

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