Mira Nair's 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' Named Venice's Opening Film

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UPDATED: The film, starring Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Martin Donovan, is Nair's fifth to screen on the Venice Lido, but the first to open the storied festival.

ROME – The 69th edition of the Venice Film Festival will open with the out-of-competition screening of Mira Nair’s thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, organizers announced Sunday.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist -- which stars Riz AhmedKate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Martin Donovan -- is an international political thriller about a Pakistani man (Ahmed) working on Wall Street who is caught between his professional aspirations, a hostage crisis, and his loyalty to his native country. 

The film is based on the best-selling novel of the same name, which has been translated into 25 languages. Filming took place in Delhi, Istanbul, New York, Atlanta, and Lahore in Pakistan.

Lydia Dean Pilcher and the Qatar-based Doha Film Institute produced the film, whose score includes new original music by Peter Gabriel.

“The opening night feature will provide much food for thought,” first-year Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in a statement. “Nair has made an exemplary film adaptation of a novel that deals with the topical issue of fundamentalism of any kind or nature. With great sensitivity, subtlety and remarkable sense of cinematic narrative, the director is never reluctant to take a difficult stand, inspired by profound ethical and moral reasons that, although choosing to face reality, still reject its compromises and aberrations.”

The film will represent the fifth time the India-born Nair, who won Venice’s coveted Golden Lion prize in 2001 for Monsoon Wedding, had a film screen on the Venice Lido. Before this year, her most recent film to screen at the festival was 2004’s Vanity Fair, which screened in competition.

The announcement of Venice’s opening film is the biggest official news about the festival’s lineup. The full program is scheduled to be released July 26.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist will screen August 29 in the Lido’s main venue in the Palazzo del Cinema, following the opening ceremony of the festival, which concludes Sept. 8.