Natalie Portman film to open Venice festival

Natalie Portman in the film New York, I Love You

Natalie Portman in the film New York, I Love You

A film starring Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman as a top ballerina has been selected to open this year's Venice Film Festival in September.

Ms Portman plays the lead in “Black Swan”, a psychological thriller directed by Jewish filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.

It will be the third consecutive film by Mr Aronofsky premiering at the Venice event, following The Fountain and The Wrestler, which won the festival's Golden Lion prize in 2008.

The film, which also stars the Jewish actress Winona Ryder, tells the story of the heated rivalry between two principal dancers in a Manhattan production of the classic ballet Swan Lake.

Ms Portman, 29, has been acting since she was a child, going from an early role in the Woody Allen film Everyone Says I Love You, to the Star Wars franchise and more recently to the part of a Chasidic wife in the film New York, I Love You.

A Harvard graduate who was taught by Alan Dershowitz while at university, the actress also trained as a ballet dancer on the film.

Ms Portman said: “The character was very interesting to play, always challenging and surprising.”

The Brooklyn-based filmmaker, who is engaged to Jewish star Rachel Weisz, said the cast was excited to launch the film at the festival.

He said: "It is an honour to walk the great red carpet on the Lido.”

Last updated: 2:59pm, January 28 2011