Ryan Gosling's Neil Armstrong movie to open Venice Film Festival

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Claire Foy and Ryan GoslingImage source, Reuters / Getty
Image caption,
Claire Foy and Ryan Gosling will star in First Man

Summer 2018 has so far given us plenty of hot weather and a World Cup which broke the record for most own goals scored in the tournament's history.

The last thing anyone is thinking about is the winter film awards season.

But despite it still being July, the starting gun for the race which will culminate in the Oscars in February has now been fired.

It's been announced that First Man will open the Venice International Film Festival this year - traditionally thought of as the first of the awards season festivals.

It's based on the Apollo 11 moon landing, and stars Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong - who became the First Man (y'see) to walk on on the moon in 1969.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Gosling dressed up as an astronaut on Jimmy Kimmel's chat show last month to promote the film

The movie is directed by Damien Chazelle, whose film La La Land - also starring Gosling - opened the same festival in 2016.

The musical went on to pick up a whole host of awards - although not, notably, best picture at the Oscars.

(Famously, the film was initially announced as the winner by mistake, before it finally went to Moonlight).

Claire Foy - best known for playing a young Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown - will star as Armstrong's wife Janet, while Corey Stoll and Lukas Haas will portray astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins respectively.

The film will be released in the US on 12 October.

"I wanted to look at just how radical, crazy and controversial the whole mission was," Chazelle told BBC News last month.

Image source, Lionsgate
Image caption,
Another of Chazelle's films, La La Land, opened the festival in 2016

"What's the psychology it takes to be the individual taking those first steps? At a time when a lot of people think it will be a failure that will potentially cost your life?

"I became fascinated by Neil, and in what must have been going through his head in the months and years leading up to that mission - and how superhuman it was."

The opening film at Venice normally serves as one of the earliest and most high-profile bids for awards season.

Several films to have launched the festival in recent years have gone on to awards glory - such as Birdman and Black Swan.

Gravity, Everest, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Ides of March and last year's Downsizing have also served as the opening night film.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin pictured in 1969

Venice's 75th annual festival begins on 29 August and runs until 8 September.

It coincides with the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, which are also both traditionally Oscars indicators.

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