Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in Birdman.

Black comedy Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu will close the 52nd New York Film Festival. The film, starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts, will be Iñárritu's third to screen at the festival, with the Mexican-born director's Amores Perros playing in 2000 and 21 Grams in 2003.

Birdman centers on one-time action hero Riggan Thomson, played by Keaton, who attempts to be taken seriously as an artist by staging his own adaptation of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Thomson, however, must contend with a resentful daughter (Stone), a scene-hogging narcissist (Norton), a vulnerable actress (Watts), and an unhinged girlfriend (Riseborough) for co-stars, a manager who is coming undone (Galifianikis), as well as his own inner demon—the superhero that brought him fame, Birdman.

Iñárritu co-wrote the film's screenplay along with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo.

Alejandro Iñárritu at NYFF in 2003 with 21 Grams. Photo by Godlis

The Film Society noted that “Iñárritu’s camera magically prowls, careens, and soars in and around the theater,” adding, “Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is an extravagant dream of a movie, alternately hilarious and terrifying, powered by a deep love of acting, theater, and Broadway—a real New York experience.”

Birdman is a knockout. It’s consistently surprising and inventive—you think the movie is going in one direction and then Iñárritu shifts gears and takes you somewhere else completely unexpected: the movie is like an intricate machine generating greater and greater amounts of beautiful radiant energy,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones. “The entire cast is amazing and they mesh perfectly, but I have to say that Michael Keaton is astonishing. He’s always been a terrific and, in my opinion, underrated actor. Here he gets the role he deserves, and he makes the most of it. And, it’s a great Broadway movie.”

The Fox Searchlight Pictures and New Regency release is slated to open Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance in select theaters on October 17.

NYFF previously announced Gone Girl as the Opening Night selection and Inherent Vice as the Centerpiece, the retrospective Joseph L. Mankiewicz: The Essential Iconoclast, as well as initial selections in the Revivals section, including Burroughs: The Movie, The Color of Pomegranates, Hiroshima Mon Amour, and Once Upon a Time in America.  

The 52nd New York Film Festival takes place September 26 – October 12.

Tickets for the 52nd New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public at noon on Sunday, September 7. Becoming a Film Society member before July 31 provides access to a pre-sale period for single tickets to festival screenings and events ahead of the general public on-sale date.

Subscription Packages and VIP Passes to NYFF52 give the buyer the earliest access to tickets and are on sale through July 31. Depending on the level purchased, packages and passes provide access to Main Slate and Special Event screenings including those on the Opening, Centerpiece and Closing nights of the festival. VIP passes also provide access to many exciting events including the invitation-only Opening Night party, “Evening With…” Dinners, Filmmaker Brunch, and VIP Lounge.