The 67th edition of the festival gets underway today with the world premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan followed by Robert Rodriguez’s Machete.

The 67th Venice Film Festival kicks off today with the world premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan from Fox Searchlight in competition. As in past editions, Venice will be offering a star-studded opening day with the cast from Robert Rodriguez’s Machete trailing the red carpet after Black Swan. Jury President Quentin Tarantino arrived Tuesday via water taxi with Rodriguez, followed by Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba and Danny Trejo, providing some early glamour shots for the paparazzi.

With the Toronto Film Festival looming, programming is key for Venice, and this year Marco Muller told ScreenDaily it is strong throughout the festival without any particular lulls.

In Venice’s first week, strong titles include Julian Schnabel’s Miral, Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere and Tran Ann Hung’s Norwegian Wood.

Mid-way titles to keep all eyes focused on Venice include Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee and The Mystery Of Phantom Flame, Pablo Larrain’s second effort Post Mortem as well as Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, all of which screen over the first weekend.

The second week kicks off with a last minute entry of Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing screening Monday while the last stretch of the festival brings several hot titles to wrap up this year’s edition.

 “We had to backload [again] as we did the year we put TheHurt Locker as the opener of the three last days of the festival to prove how exciting the end of the festival would be… but we are pretty confident that there will not be any ‘down’ moment” in the [over all] programming schedule, Mueller told ScreenDaily before the festival opened.

UK producer Jeremy Thomas of HanWay and Recorded Picture Company is bringing two competition titles to Venice this year, Essential Killing and Thirteen Assassins, which then take gala slots in Toronto after their Venice premieres. “Getting into competition is very good for the films and is a good trajectory into the market. It’s the right exposure… and a way to focus attention on it for a couple weeks,” he said of both films.

Takashi Miike’s Thirteen Assassins was given one of the prized final three-day slots and screens on Thursday, Sept 9. Thomas describes the film as an “epic samurai tale – extraordinary piece – it’s not a traditional samurai film,” he says. Pre-sales for the director’s next film have already begun.

Two films screening in competition the last three days come to the Lido via The Match Factory. On Wednesday, Sept 8 – Attenberg by Greece’s Athina Rachel Tsangari and on Friday, Sept 10 Tom Tykwer’s Three) will screen.

Weber says Venice buzz can do more than stimulate sales. Last year he brought Fatih Akin’s Soul Kitchen to the Lido, which was largely pre sold. Weber says buzz was so positive it provided a boost of confidence for distributors that already bought the film.

 “The reactions we had and the press at the festival gave confidence for us to release the film as a comedy. It proved it would work as a comedy and critics went for it as well. That gave confidence to [all of the] distributors.”

Speaking of Drei, which is still open for distribution sales, Weber describes it as “a picture of Berlin society that’s engaging and full of surprises. It is not a romantic comedy but there are some elements of that [to the film].”

While the Biennale is still tallying up the number of buyers on the Lido, they cited several top companies including Artificial Eye, Hopscotch, Focus Features, Le Pacte, Magnolia Pictures, Pyramide, Revolver, The Weinstein’s and Wild Bunch are among those registered. In 2009, 400 buyers attended.

For this edition, programmers viewed 4,251 films from 102 countries (last year 74 countries made submissions). Films in the official line up come from 34 countries – up from 27 in 2009. Italy is most strongly represented with 41 titles across all official sections this year (a leap up from 22 Italian titles in 2009). The US has the second strongest offer with 19 titles in the official selection.

Venice runs Sept 1-11.