EXCLUSIVE: Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master will join the competition roster at the Venice Film Festival, and it might well be part of the Toronto International Film Festival program as well. There has been speculation in recent weeks that The Master could have a Venice berth, but it was not among the films announced by festival organizers last week. I’m told that the film has now been locked, and that Harvey Weinstein will get a prime Saturday slot to launch it into the Oscar-season fray. It certainly ramps up the buzz factor at the festival, partly because critics finally get to decide for themselves how much the title character played by Philip Seymour Hoffman was influenced by L. Ron Hubbard and his formation of Scientology.

I don’t think The Master will play Telluride, where a lot of Oscar bait pictures screen in an unofficial capacity, but I’ve heard that Toronto is a real possibility before The Weinstein Company opens the film September 21. The film also stars Joaquin Phoenix as a young drifter who becomes The Master’s right hand man, and Amy Adams, who plays the title character’s wife.