Festival sidebar casts a wide net

Fest takes populist approach | Extra eclectic

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Imagine a festival section featuring sex, rock ‘n’ roll and genre pics, but also genocide and green-themed docus, 3-D shorts, “lo-fi” vidclips and even home movies, alongside new works by Alexandre Rockwell and John Landis.

That — and more — is all in Extra, the Rome Film Festival’s cutting-edge section open to all formats.

Going against a growing tendency toward sidebars dedicated to a single strand of esoteric fare, Extra is instead conceived as the ultimate eclectic mixed bag, designed to please sophisticated metropolitan auds, especially in the Internet age.

“It gives people a chance to hop around from one type of cinema to the next,” says Extra topper Mario Sesti.

Sexuality is the theme of a slew of titles this year, two of which are companion pieces of sorts: “Yoyochu in the Land of the Rising Sex,” a docu about late Japanese porn director Tadashi Yoyogi and his unique quest to ensure that the sex in his films was not just real but also pleasurable, and “The Canal Street Madam,” by U.S. helmer Cameron Yates, about the quest to decriminalize prostitution by self-professed prostitute Jeanette Maier, arrested by the FBI for running a New Orleans brothel where she employed her daughter.

Delving into the roots of rock are docus “Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon,” about the journo who helped legitimize rock music with her 1969 “The Rock Encyclopedia,” and “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town,'” which goes behind the scenes of the Bruce Springsteen album.

Feature films include the world preem of Landis’ black comedy “Burke and Hare,” Sundance standout “The Freebie” by Katie Aselton and Rockwell’s punchy comedy “Pete Smalls Is Dead.”

Rockwell and Landis will also take part in the onstage conversations that are becoming another Extra trademark. The most high-profile Q&A this year is with Julianne Moore, who is being honored with a Rome lifetime achievement kudo.

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