Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” a drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a famous high-wire artist, will open the 53rd annual New York Film Festival.

The Columbia TriStar release tells the story of Philippe Petit, who in Aug. 7, 1974 made history by performing for 45 minutes on a tightrope that connected the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Petit was the subject of 2009’s “Man on Wire,” directed by James Marsh (“The Theory of Everything”), which won the Oscar for best documentary.

As awards season has become more and more competitive, the opening night spot of the New York Film Festival has become a critical stop for aspiring Oscar contenders. Last year’s film “Gone Girl” landed a best actress nod for Rosamund Pike and went on to gross $368 million worldwide for Twentieth Century Fox. Five other recent titles—2013’s “Captain Phillips,” 2012’s “Life of Pi,” 2010’s “The Social Network,” 2006’s “The Queen” and 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck”—all earned best picture nominations at the Academy Awards.

“The Walk,” co-written by Christopher Brown and Zemeckis, includes a cast of Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale and Ben Schwartz. Zemeckis is no stranger to the NYFF, having directed the closing night film—“Flight” headlined by Denzel Washington—in 2012.

The picture will premiere at NYFF on Sept. 25, and open in theaters nationwide on Oct. 2.