The Rome Film Fest hasannounced the line-up for its first edition, which runs from Oct 13-21. With atotal of 12 world premieres in its two main sections, the festival line-up hasgone some way towards disproving predictions that the newborn event would becrushed in the autumn festival logjam.
In addition to opening titleFur - which had a sneak preview atthe Telluride Film Festival earlier this month - two major studio films will bepremiering in Rome: Lasse Hallstrom's TheHoax, in which Richard Gere plays Clifford Irving, author of a fake HowardHughes biography which created a scandal in the early 1970s; and ChristopherNolan's The Prestige, starring HughJackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians in late Victorian London.
Other world premieresinclude Giuseppe Tornatore's first film in five years, The Unknown, which centres on a Ukrainian woman with a tragic pastwho emigrates to the Italian border town of Trieste; and the adoption drama The Stone Council by French directorGuillaume Nicloux, featuring a Monica Bellucci "as we've never seen her before,according to gala programmer Piera De Tassis. De Tassis also pointed out thestrong feminine slant to the festival, with 20 female directors in the varioussections.
The organisers were keen to playdown the ongoing controversy about
The 95 films in the officialselection are distributed across five sections: Premiere, Sezione Cinema (whichincludes the 16 main competition films, plus three more which are screening outof competiton), Special Events, Extra and the previously-announced kids' andyoung adults' sidebar, Alice in the City.
Competition highlightsinclude two films that are screening as co-premieres with the PusanInternational Film Festival, Shinya Tsukamoto's dreamworld noir Nightmare Detective and
A strong Francophonepresence is spearheaded by Catherine Corsini's Les Ambitieux, a dark romantic drama set in the Parisian publishingworld. This is one of two Pyramide International productions that will debut in
Italian films in competitioninclude Francesca Comencini's multi-linear drama At Our House (A casa nostra) and Davide Ferrario's documentary Primo Levi's Journey.
The 50-person popular jury,presided over by veteran Italian director Ettore Scola, will award a $253,630 (Euros200,000) prize for Best Film, plus awards for Best Actor and Actress. Anunusual "sidebar" award has also been created: the Patricia McQueeney award forBest Actor's Agent or Manager. The prize is named after Harrison Ford'slongtime agent, who died last year; Ford himself will present it during aceremony on Oct 20.
Created as a container forfilms that "border on genre cinema," the Special Events section incudes theItalian premieres of two hot autumn movies, Martin Scorsese's Infernal Affairsremake The Departed and the SachaBaron Cohen mockumentary Borat, aswell as Roberto Ando's contemporary melodrama Secret Journey, reportedly at the centre of a falling-out betweenthe Biennale and the film's producer, Medusa, after it was rejected forcompetiton in Venice.
The Festival's ultra-cineastesection, Extras, dedicated to "exploring and charting new areas of theimagination," will host
47 films in various formats,from full-length features to innovative TV content to cinematic fragments. Thelatter will include a few minutes' footage from Dear Anne, an animated reconstruction by Italian director DarioPicciau of the life of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, which is being billed as"the first 3D digital reality film".
Extras also hosts Il Mondo Addosso, a documentary by The Island director Costanza Quatriglioabout the plight of teenage illegal immigrants in Rome, and Italian comedian CorradoGuzzanti's sci-fi satire Fascists On Mars- a feature-length version of a work-in-progress presented at Venice in 2003.
A "Work of the Actor"section is this year dedicated to Sean Connery, recipient of the Festival'sActing Award 2006 and focus of a major retrospective. Other Rome Fest retrospectivesinclude a selection of 1950s films associated with
Festival organisers werekeen to point out that
Asked about Rome's place inthe increasingly crowded autumn festival calendar, organiser Mario Sestideclared that "these are technical questions that affect no more than a hundredpeople in the whole world.... this is a festival for the Roman public". ButRome Fest president Bettini said that he was open to Italian culture ministerFrancesco Rutelli's invitation to discuss the question of dates with organisersof