Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY to Open 70th Annual Venice Film Festival

     July 3, 2013


The Venice Film Festival is set to open this year with Alfonso Cuaron’s highly-anticipated new film, Gravity.  The sci-fi picture centers on a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) who is stranded alone in space with a veteran astronaut (George Clooney) following a catastrophic event aboard their spacecraft.  It will be the first 3D picture to ever kick off the Venice Film Festival, and definitely a big change of pace from last year’s Venice opener, Mira Nair’s independent political thriller, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.  Getting Gravity as the opener is a very encouraging sign for Cuaron’s movie since Warner Bros. could run the picture through the festival circuit up to its opening on October 4th in order to be a major player during awards season.  Cuaron is no stranger to Venice and his previous films Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men both won awards when they played at the festival.

Personally, I’m hoping for a North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, but we’ll have to see how far the studio is willing to take the picture.  It’s worth noting that a majority of last year’s Venice features made the jump to TIFF  Hit the jump for the press release.

gravity-posterHere’s the press release.  I’ve put the film’s official synopsis in bold:

70th Venice International Film Festival
Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón,
starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney,
is the opening film of the 70th Venice Festival

Gravity, the new, much-awaited film directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, Children of Men), starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is the opening film (Out of Competition) of the 70th Venice International Film Festival (August 28 – September 7, 2013).  The Festival is directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.

The world premiere of Gravity will be screened in 3D on August 28th in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema at the Lido, following the opening ceremony.

Cuarón’s history with the festival dates back to 2001, when his film Y tu mamá también won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay (by Carlos and Alfonso Cuarón) and the Marcello Mastroianni Award (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna).  Alberto Barbera was also the director of the Festival that year.  In 2006, Cuarón’s Children of Men won the Golden Osella for Best Cinematography, honoring Emmanuel Lubezki, who is also the Director of Photography on Gravity.  And in 2007, Gravity’s co-writer Jonás Cuarón premiered his directorial debut Año Uña during Critics’ Week in Venice.

Gravity, from Warner Bros. Pictures, is a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space.  In the film, Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone – tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth… and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left.  But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

The last time Venice opened with a science fiction movie was in 2000 with Space Cowboys by Clint Eastwood, at the 57th Film Festival, directed by Alberto Barbera.

Gravity was written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón. It was produced by Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman (the Harry Potter series).  Chris deFaria, Nikki Penny and Stephen Jones are the executive producers. The credits also include Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, Y tu mamá también, The New World) as director of photography, production design by Andy Nicholson (Alice in Wonderland), and costume design by Jany Temime (the Harry Potter series). The visual effects supervisor is Tim Webber (The Dark Knight).  Music is by Steven Price (Attack the Block).  Gravity was filmed entirely at London’s Shepperton Studios. It will be distributed worldwide in 3D and 2D, and in IMAX®, by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros Entertainment Company.

Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most celebrated directors of his generation.  His debut film in 1991 Sólo Con Tu Pareja, a dark comedy starring Daniel Giménez Cacho and Claudia Ramírez, was the biggest box-office hit in Mexico in 1992 and garnered Cuarón an Ariel Award as co-writer.  Impressed with the feature film debut, Sydney Pollack hired Cuarón to direct Murder, Obliquely, an episode of the neo-noir Fallen Angels series on Showtime (joining the ranks of fellow Fallen Angels directors Steven Soderbergh, Jonathan Kaplan, Peter Bogdanovich and Tom Hanks). The episode, starring Laura Dern and Alan Rickman, won Cuarón the 1993 Cable ACE Award for Best Director.

Cuarón made his first American feature film with the critically acclaimed motion picture adaptation of the beloved children’s book A Little Princess (1995), which was nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Cinematography and Art Direction, and won the L.A. Film Critics New Generation Award. This was followed in 1998 by a contemporary adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert De Niro, Anne Bancroft and Ethan Hawke.

Cuarón next returned to Mexico to direct a Spanish-speaking cast in the funny, provocative and controversial road comedy Y tu mamá también, for which he received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Original Screenplay (written with his brother Carlos) and BAFTA nominations for Best Foreign Film and Best Original Screenplay. This was followed in 2003 with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third in the series of phenomenally successful adaptations of author J.K. Rowling’s novels; Rowling herself named Cuarón’s film as her personal favourite in the series.

Cuarόn’s next project, Children of Men, which he co-write with Timothy Sexton, was one of the most talked about films of 2006, and was celebrated by critics and film fans for its ground breaking techniques, including several high-impact tracking shots. The film was nominated for a multitude of awards, including three Academy Awards® for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Achievement in Film Editing, and went on to win two BAFTAs for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design.

After producing friend Guillermo del Toro’s globally acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), he formed the independent production company Cha Cha Cha with fellow Mexican-born filmmakers del Toro and director Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, which thus far has produced  Iñárritu’s Academy Awards® and BAFTA nominated Biutiful (2010).

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