Summer 2018 has so far given us Love Island, a heatwave, and England doing better than anyone expected in the World Cup. 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. 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. "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. 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.