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Ali Fazal's Victoria & Abdul set for world premiere at Venice International Film Festival

The Stephen Frears film, starring Judy Dench and Fazal, will also be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which begins a week later.

Sonal Pandya

Based on Shrabani Basu’s book, Victoria & Abdul is all set to welcome the festival season with a bang, beginning with a world premiere at the 74th Venice International Film Festival. The period drama directed by Stephen Frears and starring Academy Award winner Judi Dench and Ali Fazal will be showcased alongside other Hollywood films like Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, starring Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz, and Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence. The festival will be held from 30 August to 9 September, 2017.

However, the two latter films are screening in competition, while Victoria & Abdul will be out of competition. Director Ritesh Batra’s Our Souls At Night, with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, will also have its world premiere at the festival and like Victoria & Abdul will screen out of competition.

Dench and Fazal in a still from the film

Lead actor Ali Fazal, expressed his excitement at the Venice news and said in a statement, "After TIFF, I'm happy and proud to say we are also up in Venice alongside the best of the best. To be a front runner at a place where Robert Redford and Jane Fonda will be honoured and along with so many other legends present there, I just feel cool and honoured. So, let the games begin."

Fazal had a small part in 2015’s Furious 7 with Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. Victoria & Abdul is his first leading role in a Hollywood production. Frears’s previous films, The Queen (2006) and Philomena (2013)  were nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. With the previous records of both Frears and Judi Dench, a six-time nominee, Victoria & Abdul is off to a promising start. The cast and crew of the film are expected to attend the festival for the world premiere.