New Roman holiday

Italo fest's geared to general public

Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni and organizers of Cinema Festa Internazionale di Roma officially unveiled Italy’s new film event on Thursday, underscoring that it’s not competing against the Venice fest and pointing to a different conceptual blueprint.

“Cinema Festa is a homage to cinema and also to one of the great economic resources of this city,” said Veltroni at a press conference in Rome’s City Hall, packed with local industryites.

“Festa,” Italian for party rather than festival, is the event’s operative word, says the mayor, an ardent film buff who has long aspired to put Rome on the international fest map.

Inaugural event will run Oct. 13-21 with a budget of E7 million ($8.5 million) — on a par with Venice, which ends about a month earlier.

Cinema Festa will feature 80 pics in five sections: Competition will unspool 14 international preems from directors who have yet to crack the big time; seven mainstream pics will unspool in the Premiere gala section; the Actor’s Work will pay homage to a living thesp; unconventional formats will unspool in the Extra section; and kidpics will play in Alice in the City.

Fifty ordinary moviegoers will pick the winners of the film and two acting nods, said Veltroni, boasting that the broad civilian main jury is one of the event’s defining traits.

Hub of the Festa will be the Renzo Piano-designed Auditorium, which has four full-sized screening facilities.

Several theaters in central Rome will help bump up the screen count to 20. There will also be panels, seminars, and workshops for the general public.

The Via Veneto, of “La Dolce Vita” fame, is intended to become the focal point of an informal market to which the Festa hopes to attract some 350 buyers and sellers.

Yet the event’s top priority will ostensibly be Romans, not international industryites.

“We have a different vision than Venice,” said Auditorium topper Goffredo Bettini. “We will be a big metropolitan fest for a nonspecialized audience.”

Festa’s artistic head honchos are vet industryite Giorgio Gosetti and film critic Mario Sesti, who met last week with Venice topper Marco Muller in a spirit of mutual collaboration.

Former Locarno deputy director Teresa Cavina is in charge of the international side.

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