ITV thriller takes top honors at event
British telepic “Perfect Parents,” an ITV thriller about an atheist couple who put their daughter in a Catholic school with disastrous consequences, took the top nod at the RomaFictionFest.Debut edition of the six-day extravaganza, headquartered in the Vatican-owned Auditorium della Conciliazione a stone’s throw from St. Peters, wrapped Saturday, having made lots of local converts and some progress in building an international standing. Fest topper Felice Laudadio declared himself satisfied and said that he would be exiting his role. Besides snagging the fest’s diamond-encrusted Maximo Diamond statuette — touted as the world’s most valuable fest trophy — the Joe Ahearne-helmed “Parents” also took the actor prize for Blighty’s Christopher Eccleston, who plays the young girl’s father. Russian helmer Sergey Bobrov scooped the director nod for “The Last Mine Shaft,” about the dreams of three generations of miners, produced by TV Channel Russia. The actress gong went to Gaul’s Anne Caillon, star of noir “L’Etranger,” based on U.S. author Patricia MacDonald’s thriller “The Unforgiven” and produced by France 2. Largely Eurocentric first edition featured a large number of TV dramas, boasting 29 world preems, mostly homegrown or from nearby territories. But the fest also showcased fresh fiction from far-flung places such as China and Iran. Hollywood fare unspooling included the world preem of ABC’s “Masters of Science Fiction” and the pilot for its upcoming drama “Eli Stone,” plus CBS crimer “Cold Case.” Highly awaited preem of Teutonic telepic “Side Effects,” about the effects of Thalidomide, which caused birth defects in thousands of babies in the 1960s, was pulled pending an appeal to Germany’s highest court by the Grunenthal pharmaceutical company, which has been waging a long legal battle to have it banned. “It will air soon,” vowed producer Jan Mojto to Daily Variety, calling the court decision, expected by July 20, “a mere formality.” Mojto was also in Rome to help tubthump mega pan-European skein “War and Peace,” the eight country co-production mounted by Italy’s Lux Vide that got good writeups in the Italo press. He said he was generally “impressed” by the fest, adding it needs to reconsider its dates, as it’s currently skedded less than a month after Canada’s Banff World Television Festival. Fest topper Felice Laudadio, who has long admitted that the nascent fiction fest’s scheduling needs a rethink, also told Daily Variety that he may not stay on for another edition. “I just came on board to get the ball rolling,” Laudadio said, boasting that the fest’s more than 30,000 nonpaying Roman spectators who took in telepics in a 13- plex made the RomaFictionFest “a pretty unique testing ground.” Though it is unclear who may replace Laudadio at the helm of the festival — a sister event to the ambitious RomeFilmFest — or what the dates may be for its next edition, the new fest got off to a pretty good start. Support is strong from top Italo broadcasters RAI and Mediaset, who can use both the creative stimulus it provides and its promotional potential.