Alice in the City, Extra look to be big draws

Aiming to appeal to Romans of all sorts, the RomeFilmFest really has something for everyone.

While more canonical cinema will unspool in the cornerstone competish and premiere sections, the nascent event’s two main sidebars — Alice in the City for kids and the multifarious multiformat Extra, which features more than 50 mostly cutting-edge titles — look likely to be big draws.

Jointly the sections comprise fare as disparate as Italo helmer Cristiano Bortone’s inspirational blind-boy tale “Red Like the Sky,” which will unspool for children on a cruise ship, to Italo sci-fi satire “Fascists on Mars,” one of a few feature films in the otherwise docu-heavy Extra.

“Fascists,” helmed by Italo comic Corrado Guzzanti, lampoons Fascist-era propaganda movies as it satirizes Italy’s more recent Silvio Berlusconi era. Pic is among several politically sensitive or otherwise potentially controversial titles in Extra, along with U.S. helmer Deborah Scranton’s Iraq conflict docu “The War Tapes” and “Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project,” about the eponymous artist’s relationship with his schizophrenic mother. Latter two are unspooling in Rome thanks to fest’s partnership with Tribeca, where the pics world-preemed.

There is also no shortage of more frivolous, or at least more merely entertaining, fare in Extra, ranging from Yank Beastie Boys docu “Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That,” by Adam Yaouch, aka Nathaniel Hornblower, to Gallic helmer Julie Gavras’ “Blame It on Fidel,” an ironic look at early ’70s France seen through a bourgeois child’s inner turmoil.

“Whoever attends Extra,” says Mario Sesti, who runs the section and also co-directs the Rome fest with Giorgio Gosetti, “will come away with an idea of the new frontiers being opened by those who are making moving images and thinking outside the box.”

While kids have decidedly less of an appetite for the avant-garde, Alice in the City — named as a tribute to early Wim Wenders pic “Alice in the Cities” — also offers a wide range of genres and themes, from old-fashioned storytelling in Fredi M. Murer’s “Vitus,” about a 12-year-old piano prodigy, to U.S. helmer Zackary Adler’s “I’m Reed Fish,” a postmodernist take on prematrimonial panic set in fictional rural Mud Meadows.

Sidebar, split into two sections — K12 for 12-year-olds and under and Young Adults for teens — will also serve as European launchpad for several films: Lionsgate’s “Akeelah and the Bee”; UIP’s blockbuster “Over the Hedge”; “Open Season” from Sony Pictures Animation; and Disney’s first Italo pic, Sicilian teacher-pupil drama “Salvatore,” by Gian Paolo Cugno. All screen out of competition.

Also out of competish is “Red Like the Sky,” depicting a blind child’s travails during the ’70s, inspired by the real-life story of Italo sound editor Mirco Mencacci. “Red” will unspool as a gala on a cruise ship in the port of Civitavecchia outside Rome.

Appropriately, Alice’s 16 competing entries will be judged by a jury comprising 150 kids who will live together for the fest’s nine-day duration.

Someone should shoot a docu of their discussions.

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