Gotham fest trades pics with Eternal City's new film event

ROME — In a deft stroke of festival diplomacy, Robert De Niro recently invited Rome’s movie-loving mayor, Walter Veltroni, to be a Tribeca jury member.

“We understand that political engagements could limit your availability, but we would be very happy to shape a compatible program,” De Niro reportedly offered the Eternal City’s leader in a letter.

Veltroni was unable to accept, but in the spirit of the collaboration forged last year by the two big-city fests, several pics from the inaugural RomeFilmFest will unspool at Tribeca. They include Rome’s grand-prize winner, Russian black comedy “Playing the Victim,” and Italo helmer Paolo Virzi’s Elba-set comedy “Napoleon and Me,” both showing in narrative competition.

“We have five very strong films that first saw the light of day in the Rome. Two of them are in our main competition, which is pretty high praise,” says Tribeca artistic topper Peter Scarlet.

While Tribeca and Rome’s pact can indeed constitute a bridgehead for cross-continental indie pic pollination, few among the robust contingent of European Tribeca selections bowed at RomeFest.

It’s ironic that the only Rome-set title invited to Gotham, Agostino Ferrente’s docu “The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio,” actually preemed in Locarno. But Veltroni is known to be a big fan of “The Orchestra,” about a group of immigrant musicians from all over the world who live in one area of the city. In the mayor’s stead, the orchestra is expected to make the trek across the Atlantic to perform at Tribeca.

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