George Clooney’s writer/director/producer project The Ides Of March will open the upcoming 68th edition of the Venice Film Festival, the Biennale confirmed today after news of the title as opening film had been leaked.

Based on Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North, Clooney adapted the screenplay with his often collaborator Grant Heslov and Willimon.

The Ides of March comes to Italy via Rai Cinema/01 Distribution, which announced the film as part of their upcoming slate last week.

It’s not a surprise that Clooney would be selected to open the festival where his annual presence has practically become expected, and, after last year when his The American lost out for the opening slot to Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar winning Black Swan. In surprise to many, The American, which was shot in Clooney’s second home of Italy, and was the first to receive the Italian tax credit during filming here, opened directly in the US, skipping a Venice launch alltogether.

The presence of Clooney and his cast promises a glamorous opening night in a year which is likely to be higher on the over-all celebrity quotient in respect the past couple of editions, when Hollywood majors cut back on their European film festival launches due to the global financial downturn.

Ides is set in the near future and visits another of Clooney’s passions, that of US politics. The story focuses on a young press secretary (Ryan Gosling) working for an Ohio governor (Clooney) who unwittingly becomes entangled in a corrupt situation during the Ohio democratic primaries for the presidential election. Other cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Max Minghella and Evan Rachel Wood. 

Ides is a Columbia Pictures, Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media Group presentation and a Smokehouse/Appian Way Production, with distribution internationally via Exclusive and in the US by Sony.

Heslov and Brian Oliver produce with Clooney. Names among the long list of executive producers include actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Venice Film Festival runs Aug 31-Sept 10.