(Venice) Challengers, a film by Luca Guadagnino starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist, will open the 80th Venice Film Festival, which runs from August 30 to September 9, the Mostra announced Thursday.

In this film, the Italian author of Call me by your name (2017), the film which made French-American actor Timothée Chalamet a star, “confronts with lightness and sporting bravery themes such as love, friendship and male rivalry, giving life to a lively and moving show […] Cinema in its purest form”, rejoiced the director of the Mostra Alberto Barbera, quoted in a press release.

Young American actress Zendaya, a rising star in Hollywood, plays in Challengers Tashi Duncan, a former tennis prodigy turned coach and married to a losing champion who must face Patrick, her former best friend and the ex-boyfriend of his wife.

Patrick is played by Josh O’Connor (The Crown) while Tashi Duncan’s husband is played by Mike Faist (West Side Story).

The film will be screened on Wednesday August 30 in the great hall of the Cinema Palace on the Lido of Venice during the opening night of the oldest festival, which celebrates its 80th edition this year. The music for the film is by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Luca Guadagnino said he was “very moved” to open the Mostra with this “modern and powerful story, infused with the energy of youth and love”. “For me, as a filmmaker, opening the festival is a dream come true,” the director added, as quoted in the statement.

The film will be distributed in the United States by Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/Amazon Studios and in the rest of the world by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Luca Guadagnino, 51, was already present on the Lido in 2022 with Bones and all, a disturbing cannibal road movie with Timothée Chalamet for which he won the Silver Lion for best director.