Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ to open Venice

Posted by · 4:27 am · July 22nd, 2010

[FURTHER UPDATE: Focus has confirmed that “The American” will not, in fact, be appearing at Venice.]

[UPDATE: “Black Swan” has indeed been confirmed as the Venice opener, and will play in Competition. More soon.]

I’ve been saying for some time that this year’s Venice Film Festival looks to be a very good vintage, capitalizing on the number of highly anticipated auteur works that weren’t quite ready in time for Cannes. Even with Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” still a major question mark — some are even suggesting it won’t surface this year — there’s plenty to get quivery about besides, as is clear from this tasty Variety piece.

Nick Vivarelli’s article reiterates the titles — including Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” and Julian Schnabel’s “Miral” — that have long been all-but-guaranteed to show up at Venice, but adds some tantalizing new ones. Chief among them is Darren Aronofsky’s ballet psycho-thriller “Black Swan,” which will premiere as the festival’s opening film on September 1.

The press release breaking the news, and more Venice possibilities, after the cut.

The readiness of Aronofsky’s film had been up in the air for a while, but Venice was always the most logical place for it to make its debut: the director’s last two features, “The Fountain” and “The Wrestler,” both premiered in competition on the Lido, the latter film taking the Golden Lion in the process. Kicking off with “Black Swan” should assure the year’s fest a higher profile than last year’s quiet (but still high-quality) edition, which opened with Giuseppe Tornatore’s harshly received family saga “Baaria.”

Certainly, after a Cannes festival that saw only Doug Liman’s tepid “Fair Game” representing for the U.S. in competition, the American presence at Venice should be far more robust. Also tipped to appear are Ben Affleck’s “The Town” (trailer here) and one of my most anticipated titles of the year, “Meek’s Cutoff.” The latter film, for many (myself included) a surprise omission from this year’s Cannes slate, is a period western reuniting Michelle Williams with her “Wendy and Lucy” director Kelly Reichardt.

Meanwhile, Tom Hooper’s Colin Firth starrer “The King’s Speech,” a film which strikes some as a potential Oscar goer, is set to premiere out of competition — which would appear to confirm a more middlebrow appeal. More exciting to me is a French contingent that includes Catherine Breillat’s “Sleeping Beauty” (already confirmed to open the fest’s Orrizzonti sidebar) and Francois Ozon’s “Potiche,” which pairs Catherine Deneuve with Gérard Depardieu, three decades after their first collaboration in Truffaut’s “The Last Metro.” (No mention in Vivarelli’s article, however, of Guillaume Canet’s “Little White Lies,” starring his offscreen partner Marion Cotillard, which I thought to be Lido-bound after missing the Croisette.)

All terribly exciting — if you’re going to Venice, of course. Which, I’m happy to confirm, I am. Many North American journos, of course, will be content to wait a week or two for Toronto, where most of these will surely show up too. Still, the Italians have the premieres … and the beach. Can’t wait.

Press release from the festival website:

Black Swan, the highly anticipated new feature film by American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Golden Lion recipient in 2008 at the 65th Venice Film Festival for The Wrestler), will be the opening film – in Competition – of the 67th Venice International Film Festival.

A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City Ballet, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company (Mila Kunis).

Black Swan takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect. Black Swan also stars Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.

The 67th Venice International Film Festival will take place on the Lido from September 1 through 11 2010, directed by Marco Mueller and organized by la Biennale di Venezia under the chairmanship of Paolo Baratta.

Black Swan will have its world premiere screening on the evening of September 1 in the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema), following the opening ceremony. The film is written by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin, produced by Protozoa Pictures and Phoenix Pictures and presented by Fox Searchlight Pictures in association with Cross Creek Pictures.

“The cast and crew of Black Swan are both excited and humbled by the festival’s invitation. It is an honour to walk the great red carpet on the Lido and we are excited to premier our film to the wonderful audiences in Venice”, said Aronofsky.

“What an honour and privilege it is to be selected as the opening night film” , said Fox Searchlight Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley. “We could not have asked for a better launch for Darren and Black Swan than the Venice International Film Festival.”


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21 responses so far

  • 1 7-22-2010 at 4:49 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    I didn’t see you as a beachgoing kind of guy, Guy.

    I can’t wait for “Black Swan”. It’s probably my most-anticipated film of the year, along with “Rabbit Hole” and “Another Year”. And I just moved to Toronto from Montreal three weeks ago, so I’m quite excited to attend my first TIFF this September, where I should have the chance to catch at least one of these.

  • 2 7-22-2010 at 5:07 am

    han said...

    Venice just announced BLACK SWAN as the opening film.

    I also know that Antony Cordier’s HAPPY FEW is in competition.

  • 3 7-22-2010 at 5:29 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Indeed, it has been confirmed. The post title stands, minus the question mark.

  • 4 7-22-2010 at 5:43 am

    JJ said...

    Natalie looks haunting in that photo. Good times.

  • 5 7-22-2010 at 6:04 am

    James D. said...

    Please catch Breillat, Coppola, Schnabel, and Aronofsky while you are there, Lodge. I am dying to hear some good news in this abysmal film year.

  • 6 7-22-2010 at 6:06 am

    James D. said...

    Also, if Malick’s film is really pushed back to 2011, after it was initially going to come out last year, I don’t know what I will do with myself. I guess even a 2011 release would be a pretty fast pace for him, but still.

  • 7 7-22-2010 at 6:51 am

    JJ said...

    Abysmal year (?)

    Yet, along with a good 10+ films I’VE seen this year that I really, really enjoyed … if you take Shutter Island, Toy Story 3, Inception, & The Kids are Alright (all critically and box office acclaimed), those 4 could possibly make the 10 already.

    I don’t know. As I’ve said before, every year by July I hear, ‘what an abysmal year’. Here’s looking towards the festivals/Fall for a boatload of other good films to come out that – to add to the bunch I’ve already seen & really liked.

  • 8 7-22-2010 at 7:05 am

    The Dude said...

    The Venice line-up sounds pretty darn amazing, more so than the Cannes line-up. Hope you have fun, Guy, and we will be eagerly anticipating your reports. I’m most excited about “Black Swan” (since The Wrestler was my #1 in 2008), “Somewhere” (since Lost in Translation is my #2 OF ALL TIME), and “Miral” (since Diving Bell and Butterfly was my #3 of 2007).

  • 9 7-22-2010 at 7:30 am

    timr said...

    “Meanwhile, Tom Hooper’s Colin Firth starrer “The King’s Speech,” a film which strikes some as a potential Oscar goer, is set to premiere out of competition — which would appear to confirm a more middlebrow appeal.”

    More middlebrow than the Oscars, G? I’m not convinced this is physically possible! But I see your point that the lack of a “prestige” competition slot would seem to count against it. Meanwhile, to pick up from your earlier tweet, shall we jointly propose a moratorium on that horrible word, “prestige”? Except as the finale in an act of prestidigitation, natch…

  • 10 7-22-2010 at 7:38 am

    Alex said...

    Regardless of how the film fares, I predict the following: Black Swan = amazing soundtrack

  • 11 7-22-2010 at 7:42 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Ha, and I just made a list of 40 films I’m excited for in the next five months, and left off Black Swan, assuming things were so quiet, it would be bumped to sometime next year.

    But hopefully, I can bump off my #36, The Tree of Life (meh), shuffle things around, and squeeze in BS (lol), assuming that it’ll easily be picked up after the festival premiere.

  • 12 7-22-2010 at 7:46 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Oh, also, thanks for bringing Meek’s Cutoff to my attention.

    I love how Williams’s indie queen status is really cemented now and her Oscar-caliber projects continue to impress….All of this after she responded to her first nomination with “I’ll really enjoy it because it will never happen again.” *Knocks on wood* =).

  • 13 7-22-2010 at 8:08 am

    Cameron said...

    These are my earliest predictions-bash if you must:

    -The American
    -Another Year
    -The Kids Are Alright
    -Love and Other Drugs
    -The Social Network
    -Toy Story 3
    -The Tree of Life
    -The Way Back

    -127 Hours
    -Black Swan
    -Shutter Island

  • 14 7-22-2010 at 8:37 am

    Ivan said...

    My dream lineup for best actress:

    Nicole Kidman/Rabbit Hole
    Annette Bening/The Kids Are Alright
    Natalie Portman/Black Swan
    Leslie Manville/Another Year
    Michelle Williams/Blue Valentine
    Jennifer Lawrence/Winter´s Bone
    Anne Hathaway/Love and Other Drugs
    Carey Mulligan/Never Let Me Go
    Jennifer Connelly/What´s Wrong with Virginia?
    Naomi Watts/Fair Game

  • 15 7-22-2010 at 8:46 am

    Ivan said...

    My dream lineup for best supporting actress:

    Melissa Leo/The Fighter
    Mila Kunis/Black Swan
    Dianne Wiest/Rabbit Hole
    Helena Bonham Carter/The King´s Speech
    Rebecca Hall/The Town
    Elle Fanning/Somewhere
    Hiam Abbass/Miral
    Keira Knightley/Never Let Me Go
    Bryce Dallas Howard/Hereafter
    Sandra Oh/Rabbit Hole

  • 16 7-22-2010 at 9:20 am

    James D. said...

    JJ: Of the ones you listed, I had problems with the three I have seen and have not seen The Kids Are All Right.

    By this time last year, there were a half-dozen films or so I loved. However, between Malick, Coppola, Allen, Aronofsky, Schnabel, Coens, and Boyle, I do think things will pick up slightly.

  • 17 7-22-2010 at 9:31 am

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Portman’s picture owns!

  • 18 7-22-2010 at 10:28 am

    Reno said...

    I think Rabbit hole might have a shot at Deauville Film Festival, but that might be too soon. I think they might prefer to premiere it at AFI, just like Doubt 2 years ago. Or maybe NYFCC.

  • 19 7-22-2010 at 11:06 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Just to emphasise: Focus just contacted me to emphasise that “The American” will not be playing Venice.

    Tim: Ha! I meant more middlebrow than the average Competition selections, but your point stands. And yes, “prestige” has come to mean quite the opposite, hasn’t it? I don’t know why, exactly, but “The King’s Speech” gives me horrible “Last Station” vibes…

  • 20 7-22-2010 at 3:26 pm

    Maxim said...

    Together with Tall Dark Stranger this is my most anticipated movie of the year. True Grit is #2.

  • 21 7-22-2010 at 9:34 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    Looks great. I can’t wait to see some footage.