The 2019 Venice Film Festival runs from August 29 to September 7. The opening night film is The Truth from acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. The closing night film is The Burnt Orange Heresy by Giuseppe Capotondi. In between there are new films by Olivier Assayas, Noah Baumbach, Atom Egoyan, James Gray, Pablo Larrain, and Steven Soderbergh.

And also a movie about the Joker.

Joker, from The Hangover director Todd Phillips, and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Batman’s famous adversary, will make its world premiere at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Even more surprisingly, it is making its premiere in competition for the festival’s famous Golden Lion prize. Recent winners of the award include Roma and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Other than Cannes, Venice is probably the most prestigious film festival in the world. So Joker — or really any comic-book movie — making its premiere in competition there is kind of a big deal.

Joker, with a script by Phillips and Scott Silver, also stars Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, and Marc Maron. Here’s its official synopsis:

Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Philips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.

Following its premiere, Joker will then play the Toronto Film Festival in early September; marking two major film festivals back to back. The only movies that typically play both Venice and Toronto are ones hoping to get enough critical buzz to compete for the Oscars in the winter. Again, this is very atypical stuff for a Batman movie. Joker opens in theaters everywhere on October 4.

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