×

Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ to Open Venice Film Festival in Competition

Artistic director Alberto Barbera is in place through 2020

ROME — U.S. director Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend and J.K. Simmons, will be the opening film of the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

“La La Land,” a tribute to the Golden Age of American musicals, will world-premiere in competition from Venice on Aug. 31. The festival runs through Sept. 10.

Chazelle’s “Whiplash” won three Oscars in 2015, including a Best Supporting Actor statuette for Simmons.

In “La La Land” Gosling plays a jazz pianist, Emma Stone an aspiring actress. The pair fall in love but face difficulties as they become more successful. Chazelle directed from his own script.

The film is produced by Lionsgate in partnership with Black Label Media, Gilbert Films, Impostor Pictures, Marc Platt Productions. It will be released in the U.S. by Lionsgate on Dec. 2 in limited release and then expand wide on December 16.

“La La Land” is a film “that does not merely reinvent the musical genre, it gives it a brand new start,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in a statement. “If ‘Whiplash’ was the revelation of a new filmmaker, ‘La La Land’ is his definitive, albeit precocious, consecration among the great directors of Hollywood’s new firmament,” he added.

In separate news, the Venice Biennale, which is the fest’s parent organization, has announced that Barbera, whose mandate was up, has been reconfirmed as Venice artistic director for the next four years through 2020. The idea is to give stability to the fest, which has been plagued by fragmented leadership in the past.

“La La Land” is Chazelle’s third feature, following “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” which he made as an undergraduate at Harvard, and “Whiplash.”

“On behalf of the cast and crew of ‘La La Land,’ I am both thrilled and honored by the festival’s invitation,” said Chazelle. “It is deeply humbling for us to join the company of their previous opening-night films, and we could not be more excited to share our movie with the audience in Venice.”

Venice opened last year with Balthasar Kormakur’s “Everest,” out of competition; with Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “Birdman,” in competition, in 2014; and with Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” out of competition, in 2013. Last year, “Spotlight” launched from Venice before going on to win two Oscars, including for best picture.

“La La Land” is already considered an early awards-season contender.

The festival described the film as “a modern take on the classic Hollywood romance, which is heightened by spectacular song-and-dance numbers, as two dreamers struggle to make ends meet while they pursue their passions in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts.”

“Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail piano gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.”

 

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Garden

    Bragason Brings ‘Woman at War’s’ Geirharosdottir to ‘The Garden’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Acclaimed actress Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, best known for “Woman at War,” is set to star in writer/director Ragnar Bragason’s dark comedy “The Garden.” Currently in post-production and to be pitched at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films over Aug. 20-23, “The Garden” is Bragason’s sixth feature and his first one since the 2013 Toronto entry “Metalhead.” “I did [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras to Receive San Sebastian Career Achievement Donostia Award

    Costa-Gavras, the Greek-born France-based director of some of the most famed movies of political cinema, from 1969’s “Z” to 1981’s “Missing,” will receive a career achievement Donostia Award at this September’s 67th San Sebastian Film Festival. The filmmaker will collect his prize on Sept. 21 at a ceremony held at San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia, where [...]

  • Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Leonard (Bill

    China Box Office: New Animations No Match For 'Nezha' Domination

    Chinese animation “Nezha” continued its run as China’s biggest hit of the summer, maintaining its top spot at the box office even 25 days into its run with a weekend gross of $41.2 million. The tally made it this weekend’s fourth highest grossing film worldwide. Meanwhile, two other new animated titles performed unremarkably. The flop of [...]

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content