The decision to select a movie by a second-time director, Joe Wright of Britain, aims at highlighting the festival as a venue for new talent.
"For the first time in its history, the opening film is the work of a young director," festival director Marco Mueller said in a statement. He said the selecting committee considered the film "to be even greater than some of the major films of many confirmed directors."
The festival opens Aug. 29 and culminates Sept. 8 with the awarding of the prestigious Golden Lion. It will also include a retrospective to Spaghetti Westerns and an event dedicated to director Alexander Kluge, who won numerous awards in Venice.
Chinese director Zhang Yimou ("Raise the Red Lantern," "The Story of Qiu Ju,") was chosen to chair the jury. He has won more major awards at Venice than any other director.