"Birdman" opens to positive reviews at Venice Film Festival

A scene from "Birdman."

Fox Searchlight

A film in which art and fame battle it out in the streets and skies of Manhattan has kicked off the 71st Venice Film Festival, where high-art aspirations mix with Hollywood hopes.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman" stars former "Batman" Michael Keaton as an over-the-hill action star struggling to recover a sense of self-worth by mounting a heavyweight Broadway play.

The film had its first screening for journalists Wednesday ahead of an evening gala attended by the director and stars Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Emma Stone.

Early reaction to the genre-blending was positive. Britain's Daily Telegraph called it "grand, spectacular, star-powered cinema," while Variety labeled Keaton's performance "the comeback of the century."

The movie is one of 20 competing for the Golden Lion at the festival, which runs to Sept. 6.

Nineteen of the movies are world premieres -- and several dozen more will jostle for the attention of critics and audiences at an event that mixes adventurous fare from international auteurs with mainstream movies seeking awards-season momentum. Some films could even become Oscar contenders.

Click here for five trends and films to watch from Venice.

Watch the "Birdman" trailer below: