First Look at Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ Which Will Open the Venice Film Festival

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Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis has been confirmed as the opening film at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. The film will play in competition just as did Aronofsky’s The Wrestler in 2008 when it won the Golden Lion and started its Oscar run where it was nominated for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) and Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei). If history means anything, the film will follow its Venice preem with a screening at the Toronto Film Festival where I will be in attendance as did The Wrestler, two days after showing in Venice. Both films fall under the Fox Searchlight banner.

Upon the announcement, Fox Searchlight sent over the image of Portman as Nina you see to the right and USA Today has debuted several more images from the film which centers on a talented ballerina (Portman) in the New York City Ballet who is tormented by a rival (Kunis) who might or might not be a figment of the dancer’s imagination. The film also stars Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.

The genesis for the story came as Aronofsky became interested in ballet when his sister studied dance at the Manhattan arts school featured in Fame. The chance to make a film on the subject came after he hired several writers to rework a screenplay, The Understudy, that originally dealt with off-Broadway actors. “It had a little bit of All About Eve in it, a little bit of Polanski’s The Tenant and a little bit of Dostoevsky’s The Double.”

The story centers on the production of Swan Lake, a ballet Aronofsky has seen countless times he tells USA Today, “The original script had this idea of being haunted by a double – and Swan Lake is about a double, a White Swan and a Black Swan – so the connections started to come alive.”

The 67th Venice International Film Festival will take place on the Lido from September 1 – 11 and Black Swan will screen the evening of September 1 in the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema), following the opening ceremony. The official line-up for the festival will be announced July 29.

This is one of several films I’ve listed in my “The Contenders” and I am praying it will find its way to the TIFF line-up. For now, you can check out the rest of the stills from USA Today here and the hi-res version of the still in this article in the RopeofSilicon gallery right here.

Outside of its festival showings, Black Swan is set to hit theaters later this year.