Buzz Alert: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock Open Venice Film Festival with ‘Gravity’


Alfonso Cuarón's upcoming outer space spectacle, Gravity, will be bowing on a grand stage this summer. The thriller, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded in space, will open the 70th annual Venice Film Festival—the world's oldest cinema fête—on August 28. The stranded-in-space stunner is among 53 works that will be screened there, including Scarlett Johannson as an alien traveling across Scotland in Under the Skin, and Nicholas Cage as an ex-con named Joe who gets the chance to turn his life around by helping a 15-year-old boy.

Judging from those brief synopses, and the comparatively serious subject matter of the festival's lineup, the overall tone of the event may be dreary, something festival director Alberto Barbera says is a reflection of society's current climate. “Cinema mirrors reality, so we can't complain if auteur films today gives us an image of our times that is not consoling,” he said in a press conference at Rome's Excelsior Hotel. That doesn't mean that there aren't any award-season favorites in the mix, potentially from lesser-known filmmakers. “I hope I’ve countered the notion that festivals are overly servile towards big name auteurs,” Barbera continued. “Of course we have big names, but we also have plenty of first works and works by directors still seeking recognition.”

Gravity isn't one of those, and aptly so, won't compete for the festival's coveted Golden Lion. Twenty films, however, will, including Under the SkinJoe, and James Franco's latest directorial effort Child of God. This year's festival also marks a historic one: it will be the first time that two documentaries will enter contention, including The Unknown Known from American director Errol Morris. Franco and Morris will face off against auteurs from 32 other countries at the Italian showcase, which wraps on September 7.

Take a look at this year's full competition line-up, and get lost in a dizzying new tease of Gravity below:

2013 Venice Film Festival Competition

Es-Stouh (The Rooftops) | Merzak Allouache (Algeria and France)
L’intrepido | Gianni Amelio (Italy)
Miss Violence | Alexandros Avranas (Greece)
Tracks | John Curran (UK and Australia)
Via Castellana Bandiera | Emma Dante (Italy, Switzerland, and France)
Tom at the Farm | Xavier Dolan (Canada and France)
Child of God | James Franco (U.S.)
Philomena | Stephen Frears (UK)
La Jalousie | Philippe Garrel (France)
The Zero Theorem | Terry Gilliam (UK and U.S.)
Ana Arabia | Amos Gitai (Israel and France)
Under the Skin | Jonathan Glazer (UK and U.S.)
Joe | David Gordon Green (U.S.)
Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife) | Philip Groning (Germany)
Kaze tachinu | Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
The Unknown Known | Errol Morris (U.S.)
Night Moves | Kelly Reichardt (U.S.)
Sacro GRA | Gianfranco Rosi (Italy)
Jiaoyou (Stray Dogs) | Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan and France)
Parkland | Peter Landesman (U.S.)

New Gravity trailer: