Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s black comedy stars Michael Keaton.

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton, has been selected as the opening film of the 71st Venice Film Festival (Aug 27 - Sept 6), where it will play in competition.

The film will receive its world premiere on August 27 in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema at the Lido, following the opening ceremony hosted by Luisa Ranieri.

The black comedy tells the story of an actor (Keaton) - famous for portraying an iconic superhero - as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.

Co-stars include Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts.

Birdman will be released in North America on Oct 17 and roll out internationally in Jan 2015. Worldview Entertainment is co-financing with Fox Searchlight and Regency Enterprises.

The screenplay for Birdman was written by Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo. Producers are Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan and James W. Skotchdopole.

Director of photography is Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, The Tree of Life, Children of Men), production designer is Kevin Thompson (The Bourne Legacy, Michael Clayton) and music composed by Antonio Sanchez.

Iñárritu made his breakthrough in 2000 with Amores Perros, which received an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film and won the Critics’ Week prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

His next feature, 21 Grams, screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2003 where Penn won the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor, and both Watts and Del Toro received Oscar nominations for their performances.

In 2006, Iñárritu directed Babel, for which he was awarded the prize for best director at the 59th Cannes Film Festival.

Iñárritu was a member of the International Jury of the 64th Venice Film Festival’s Competition in 2007.

He presented Biutiful in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, where Javier Bardem won the prize for Best Actor (tied with Elio Germano for La Nostra Vita).