(MENAFN - Arab News) ROME: Hollywood greats Al Pacino Ethan Hawke and Jennifer Aniston are set to dazzle this year's Venice film festival which opens Wednesday with tales of war and the economic crisis offset by beach parties and gondola jaunts.
Michael Keaton of 'Beetlejuice' and 'Batman' fame will likely be the first A-lister to zip by water taxi across the lagoon to present Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 'Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.'
In the first of 20 flicks vying for the coveted Golden Lion prize Keaton stars as a washed-up actor once famous for playing a superhero who is now struggling to put on a Broadway play in a bid to regain his former glory. French film composer Alexandre Desplat whose dozens of works include the scores for 'The King's Speech' and 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' will head up the main jury at the 71st edition of the world's oldest film festival which runs until Sept. 6.
Many of the 55 films screening 54 of which are world premiers reflect 'a moment in which the spectre of war is rising dramatically again' festival director Alberto Barbera said in Rome last month as he unveiled the line-up.
Among them is 'Good Kill' by New Zealand director Andrew Niccol who wrote 'The Truman Show' in which Hawke stars as a drone operator in Afghanistan as well as David Oelhoffen's 'Loin des hommes' in which 'Lord of the Rings' star Viggo Mortensen plays a teacher in the Algerian war.
The five American films in competition include Al Pacino as an ex-con turned locksmith in David Gordon Green's 'Manglehorn' and Ramin Bahrani's drama '99 Homes' about a father trying to recover his house after an eviction. France will make a strong showing with four movies running for top prize including Xavier Beauvois's 'La Rancon de la gloire.'