Festival pics emphasize femme talent
The Rome Film Festival unveiled a rich mix of quality crowdpleasers — including Steven Spielberg’s 3D “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” — and more esoteric fare in its selection on Thursday.Brit and yank titles abound, alongside a copious European contingent and an especially strong Asian presence in the fest, running Oct. 27 to Nov. 4. World preems are scarce, though the 15-title competish is largely Euro launches. Even though Richard Gere will receive the fest’s honorary thesping nod, artistic director Piera Detassis said, “It will be a big year for celebrating female acting talent,” starting with previously announced opener “The Lady,” tubthumped by its star, Michelle Yeoh. Penelope Cruz is booked for an onstage conversation, Noomi Rapace is expected for Pal Sletaune’s psycho-thriller “Babycall,” Maggie Gyllenhaal for Tanya Wexler’s “Hysteria,” Olivia Newton John for Stephan Elliott’s “A Few Best Men,” Kristen Scott Thomas for Pawel Pawlikowski’s “The Woman in the Fifth,” Charlotte Rampling for Fred Schepisi’s “The Eye of the Storm,” and Zhang Ziyi for Gu Changwei’s AIDS-themed “Love for Life,” China’s first film on this sensitive subject. Hot political thriller “Poongsan,” written and produced by South Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk and directed by his former a.d. Juhn Jai-hong, is among Asian offerings. “Poongsan” unspools both in competish and at Rome’s Business Street mart, where Seoul-based Finecut is selling. Fest’s Extra section will feature a Michael Mann masterclass and high-profile docs including James March’s “Project Nim” and Alex Gibney’s “Catching Hell.” It also spotlights ultra-indie features, including Norwegian helmer Jannicke Systad Jacobsen’s coming-of age comedy, “Turn Me On, Goddamit,” and Iranian helmer Maryam Keshavarz’s “Circumstance,” about teen transgression and lesbian love in contempo Tehran. A 15-minute sneak peak of Martin Scorsese’s 3D “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” will play in the Alice section dedicated to kiddie movies. Brian Selznick, who penned the bestselling children’s book on which the pic is based, is expected to make the trek, possibly to chat onstage with Scorsese, though this isn’t confirmed. Section also features Gallic helmer Yann Samuell’s “The War of the Buttons,” one of two adaptations of Louis Pergaud’s novel. One standout amid vast Italo offerings is the freshly restored copy of the country’s first 3D pic, 1953’s “Toto — Il piu grande spettacolo del mondo in 3D,” (Funniest Show on Earth) helmed by Mario Mattoli and featuring the late comedy king Antonio De Curtis, known as Toto. The closer will be the digitally restored 4K version of Blake Edwards’ “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” marking the 50th anni of the pic’s first public screening.