Second Wind (Le Deuxieme souffle) directed by Alain Corneau will open the Rome Film Fest's competition section on the Fest's opening day, the Rome Film Festival announced Tuesday.

The film is based on a book by the same name by Jose Giovanni.

In a statement, the Rome Film Fest called the work a summation to now of the director's work in noir films 'to which he has always been a passionate interpreter and insuperable innovator.'

Shot between Paris, Marseille and Le Bouches du Rhone, Second Wind is set in the 1950s and tells of the adventures of a dangerous gangster. Gu (Daniel Auteil) is trailed by the police after escaping from prison. While he looks for safe passage across the frontier into Italy with his companion Manouche (Monica Bellucci) he has to commit just one last 'hit' which shows him that the crime world has changed quite a bit since he went behind bars.

The film also features Jacques Dutronc and Daniel Duval as well as Michel Blanc and Eric Cantona.

'We consider this a true gift from Corneau and his producers,' Teresa Cavina and Giorgio Gosetti, co-artistic directors of Rome 's competition section said in a statement. 'We are proud to open the competition with a film that knows how to renew a great tradition without renouncing, even for a moment, a single sequence of the originality of the director.'

Second Wind is an Arp Selection, Christal Films and Wild Bunch production. Wild Bunch is handling international sales.

Second Wind will have its premier at the second edition of the Rome Film Fest before opening on French screens a few days later. Rome Film Fest runs Oct 18-27.