CLEVELAND, Ohio — “White Noise” will open the 79th Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31, organizers announced Monday. Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, the upcoming Netflix release was shot in and around Cleveland in 2021. Production wrapped in November, but there had been some uncertainty about when the film would be ready for screening. Until now.
“It was worth waiting for the certainty that the film was finished to have the pleasure to make this announcement,” festival director Alberto Barbera said in a statement. “Adapted from the great Don DeLillo novel, Baumbach has made an original, ambitious and compelling piece of art which plays with measure on multiple registers: dramatic, ironic, satirical. The result is a film that examines our obsessions, doubts, and fears as captured in the 1980′s, yet with very clear references to contemporary reality.”
Baumbach, whose previous film, the Oscar-winning “Marriage Story,” premiered at the same event in 2019, added, “It is a truly wonderful thing to return to the Venice Film Festival, and an incredible honor to have ‘White Noise’ play as the opening night film. This is a place that loves cinema so much, and it’s a thrill and a privilege to join the amazing films and filmmakers that have premiered here.”
Indeed, the festival has become an effective launching pad for films with Academy Award aspirations. Opening-night films in recent years have included “Gravity,” “Birdman,” “First Man” and “Black Swan.”
The festival’s website describes “White Noise” as “at once hilarious and horrifying, lyrical and absurd, ordinary and apocalyptic.” It’s about a college professor (Driver) whose family is evacuated from their idyllic midwestern town after a train accident sparks an airborne toxic event. The story follows their “attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.” The film also stars Don Cheadle, Raffey Cassidy, Sam Nivola, May Nivola and Jodie Turner-Smith.
The movie, which was also known by its working title, “Wheat Germ,” spent more than $100 million dollars in Northeast Ohio during its six-month shoot. Crews filmed scenes in Cleveland Heights, Wellington, Canton and on the campuses of Oberlin and Baldwin Wallace, among other places. In November, the Hope Memorial Bridge in downtown Cleveland was shut down for an evacuation scene.
Netflix has not yet announced a premiere date for the film on its streaming service. The movie is likely headed for a limited theatrical release, too.