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Established 1995 serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.


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Rome Film Fest: Starting at the Top

Most festivals, in their debut year, have a modest agenda and try to keep expectations at a low pitch. Not so the Rome Film Fest, which is approaching its inaugural session with the velocity of an unstoppable train.

It has always seemed curious to Americans why some of Europe’s largest cities have not had a major film festival attached to them. Why, we wonder, did it take decades for Paris, the most cinephile of cities, to launch its own film event? Why are there no major film festivals in such major cities as Amsterdam, Madrid, Zurich, Oslo and Dublin? Is it because each of these countries has a long-established festival that has served as the “national event” (e.g. Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Locarno, Haugesund and Cork).

In the case of Italy, the long shadow cast by the venerable Venice Film Festival has long made a major film festival in Rome a dead issue. But, of the two cities, which is the one with the more respected cinema history and is the center of the contemporary film industry? Everyone may love coming to the Lido for the pomp and circumstance of the Venice event, but the film world has more history and depth in the Rome of Cinecitta, Fellini and Bertolucci.

That is certainly the view of Rome’s Mayor Walter Veltroni. The confessed cinephile has been the leading force behind the establishment of a major film festival in Rome. “Rome is a city that became one of the great capitals of the cinematic imagination. It is this dynamism and wealth of experience that has naturally led to the creation of CINEMA: Festa Internazionale di Roma, a great urban festival of the highest quality with a real feel for the people of this city.”

The Festival is being launched by a formidable team of internationally recognized film professionals, including General Director Giorgio Gosetti, Advisory Board Coordinator Mario Sesti and International Program Manager Maria Teresa Cavina.

The Rome Film Fest , which will be held from October 13 to 21 in the Italian capitol, will present five major sections:

Premieres: Seven galas devoted to European or international first releases with their stars and directors in attendance.

Il lavoro dell’attore (The Actor’s Craft): a homage to the grand masters of the art of acting, through films, laboratories, workshops and encounters.

Competition: 14 unreleased films by international filmmakers. A people’s jury consisting of 50 filmgoers, with veteran director Ettore Scola as their president, will award prizes for Best Film (a cash award of 200,000 euros), Best Actor and Best Actress awards.

Extra: An international selection of films surveying thematic and stylistic trends in filmmaking, including developments such as ‘auteur’ television, videogames, documentaries and videoclips.

Alice nella città (Alice in the City): A “festival within a festival” of international films appealing to children, teenagers and a family audience

The Festival is also joining such established events as the Rotterdam Cinemart, Berlin Talent Campus and the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum in its creation of the New Cinema Network (NCN), with the aim of building up networking contacts and financials structures to support new independent cinema. NCN will organize networking meetings for independent filmmakers with potential financial and distribution resources, which will hopefully foster co-production agreements and distribution contracts.

The Festival recently announced a partnership with the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum (HAF), that saw the establishment of the strong Rome Film Festival prize . A cash award of US $15,000 was recently presented in Hong Kong to Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakulfor his newest film project UTOPIA. The director's previous film TROPICAL MALADY was a major international arthouse sensation, having won the Jury Prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

This is one new Festival that is not holding back, but is determined to establish itself as an essential event on an already crowded Festival calendar. How it will fare just one month after such mega-extravaganzas as Venice and Toronto remains an open question among veteran festival nomads.

However, the Festival’s already announced plans and its ambitious program, not to mention the attractiveness of a film celebration in one of the world’s great cities, make it that rare event that could establish instant credibility and must-attend status during its first year. For those of us who still long for la dolce vita, that is exciting news indeed.

Sandy Mandelberger

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