By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com July 3, 2013 at 6:49AM
Festival opening films are always something of a roll of the dice. Organizers are always keen to bring some star power, so it tends to be one of the more high profile picks around, but often they may want to save the real quality for the main competition, so you'll often end up with something a little sub-par. As far as festivals go, though, Venice has a pretty good track record.
Sure, there have been some stinkers ("The Black Dahlia," last year's opener "The Reluctant Fundamentalist"), but with the likes of "Atonement," "Burn After Reading," "Black Swan" and "The Ides Of March," festivities have generally kicked off on the Lido in respectable manner. And we hope that'll continue this year, as organizers have announced that one of the year's most anticipated films is taking the opening gala slot this time around, in the form of Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity."
The science-fiction drama, which stars Sandra Bullock and Venice favorite George Clooney as two astronauts left adrift after their space station is destroyed, has been in the works for several years now, overcoming casting difficulties and a length post-production process that saw the film pushed back almost a year, but as predicted by many, will finally see the light of day on the Lido this year, kicking off the festival on August 28th. It's the first sci-fi film to open the festival since Clint Eastwood's "Space Cowboys" in 2000, and the first ever 3D film to do so.
It also marks the return to the scene of a previous triumph for Cuaron, whose last film, 2006's masterpiece "Children Of Men," premiered at the festival, winning the prize for Best Cinematography. Unlike that film, this one'll be out of competition, so doesn't stand a chance at the Golden Lion or other prizes. We're no less excited for that, though. With the film not due for release until October 4th, expect it to crop up at Telluride and/or TIFF a week or two later, though we expect that to be confirmed nearer the time. Meanwhile, we'll be in Venice again this year, and we'll have our review for you soon after the film screens. Will the rest of the films we predicted for the line-up, including "Twelve Years A Slave," "The Zero Theorem," "Captain Phillips" and "Under The Skin" make the cut too? We'll find out later in the month.