From 'Everest' to Depp, highlights of the Venice Film fest

( Agencies ) Updated: 2015-09-02 10:33:31

From 'Everest' to Depp, highlights of the Venice Film fest

A still shot from "Everest". [Photo/Mtime]

It's a sure sign that summer's over and the awards season is around the corner - the feast of fall film festivals.

The 72nd Venice Film Festival opens Wednesday, followed later in September by movie extravaganzas in Toronto, Telluride and New York. As well as celebrating the best of global cinema, the festivals battle one another to snag the biggest stars and hottest awards prospects.

Venice, the oldest and stateliest of the bunch, brings 11 days of red carpets, flashbulbs, parties and premieres to the canal-crossed Italian city. Here are five highlights, trends and themes to look out for:

High-altitude opener

Venice's opening slot has developed a formidable hit-making reputation. In 2013, it sent the space saga "Gravity" into orbit, and on to seven Academy Awards. Last year's opener, the midlife crisis comedy "Birdman," scooped up four Oscars, including best picture, and revived Michael Keaton's career.

This year's festival opens with Baltasar Kormakur's thriller "Everest," which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, Emily Watson and Jason Clarke in the fact-based story of peril on the world's highest peak. Producers' hopes are as high as a Himalayan summit.

Festival director Alberto Barbera said Tuesday that the opening film had to strike a balance between artistry and audience-pleasing.

"We need to find a film which is at the same time spectacular, with a lot of emotion (and) good characters the audience can relate to," he said. "So it's not easy."

"I think 'Everest' is more or less in the same vein as the previous two."

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