Tornatore's other films include Malena and The Legend of 1900
The Venice Film Festival will open with Baaria, the latest feature from Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore.
The $30m (£18.3m) epic, one of the most expensive films made in Italy in recent years, is the first Italian title to launch the event in two decades.
The movie is set in the Sicilian film-maker's home town of Bagheria, which is pronounced "Baaria" in local dialect.
The 66th Venice Film Festival will run from 2 to 12 September 2009. Director Ang Lee will chair this year's jury.
Last year's event saw Mickey Rourke's film The Wrestler win the prestigious Golden Lion award.
Tornatore is best known for his 1988 film Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, a nostalgic homage to the silver screen that won the Oscar for best foreign language film.
The 53-year-old served as a Venice juror in 1993 and presented two films at the festival in 1995.
Tornatore calls Baaria his "most personal film... an amusing and wistful story of great loves and irresistible utopian dreams".
The film will be presented in two versions - one in local dialect for Sicily and a version in Italian for the rest of Italy.
The full Venice line-up will be announced next month.