ROME – Italian director Alberto Fasulo’s “TIR,” a docu-like drama about a truck driver dealing with his job, his wife, and life on-the-road all over Europe, took the top prize at the Rome Film Festival, which wrapped its eighth edition Saturday on a positive note with audience attendance up 20 percent.
“TIR,” which is Fasulo’s first feature and stars Slovenian actor Branko Zavrsan (“No Man’s Land”), was a somewhat suprising winner, beating among others Spike Jones’ “Her,” which was the fest fave, and Scott Cooper’s well-received “Out of the Furnace,” which took Rome’s Taodue Golden Camera nod for first or second film, awarded by a separate jury.
Shot in a very naturalistic style, “TIR” confirms that Italy currently has a bent for docus and docu hybrids, following Gianfranco Rosi’s Golden Lion win in Venice for docu “Sacro GRA,” which has had a good local theatrical run. “TIR” is produced by indie shingles Nefertiti and Tucker Film with RAI Cinema and is being sold internationally by Fandango Sales.
Rome’s main jury, headed by U.S. helmer James Gray, also awarded the best director nod to Japanese genre master Kiyoshi Kurosawa for “Seventh Code,” his first pic shot outside Japan.
The Special Jury prize went to Romanian helmer Andrei Grunzsniczk for his sophomore work “Quod Erat Demonstrandum,” set during Communist oppression in his country and shot in black and white.
Matthew McConaughey took the best actor nod for “Dallas Buyers Club,” while Scarlett Johansson took the best actress prize for her vibrant husky voice role in “Her,” in what could be a prelude to more awards for that powerful perf even though she never appears on camera.
The prizes are emblematic of artistic topper Marco Mueller’s mix of works by emerging directors and crowdpleasers in an edition that raised the bar and could mark a turning point for Rome towards taking on a more substantial role as an international launching pad, testing ground, arena for discoveries, and also a market.
At the closing presser Mueller boasted that the Renzo Piano-designed Auditorium Parco Della Musica’s sala Santa Cecilia, which is among Europe’s biggest venues with more than 2,000 seats – where “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” launched during the fest – could make Rome a prime event where international producers can “test whether a film can really work theatrically” during the fourth quarter, playing for the Eternal City’s warm and demographically diverse metropolitan auds.
Mueller said this venue was praised by “Hunger Games” producer John Kilik and also by Berlin topper Dieter Kosslick who told him that “it would be perfect for the European Film Awards next year,” he recounted.
As for Rome’s prospects going forward, Mueller said he would like to distance the fest a little more from AFM, with which it overlapped in part this year, to make its market side stronger.
“Many sellers of non-American movies need a market opportunity for their films after AFM,” maintained Mueller, who would like to turn the informal Business Street mart into a bona fide market with booths and stands.
Another goal going forward is to attract more foreign press by offering them more comped hospitality days, which in turn could give the fest more leverage with international distributors.
Meanwhile Rome’s Business Street grew a bit this year with more than 200 buyers and 90 world sales agents from 45 countries flocking in, marking a 15 percent increase compared with last year’s lackluster mart.
Czech helmer Vaclav Kadrnka’s project “Little Crusader,” being mounted by producers Alice Tabery and Marko Skop, won the Eurimages Co-production development award worth Euros 30,000 ($40,000), selected among projects at the fest’s New Cinema Network co-production mart.
Finland’s foreign-Oscar contender “The Disciple,” by Ulrika Bengts, was the top winner of the Rome fest’s separately run Alice in the City section dedicated to kiddie pics.
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
GOLDEN MARCUS AURELIUS FOR BEST FILM
“TIR,” (Alberto Fasulo, Italy)
Kiyoshi Kurosawa (“Seventh Code,” Japan)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Quod Erat Demonstrandum,” (Andrei Gruzsniczk, Romania)
Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club,” (Jean-Marc Vallee, U.S.)
Scarlett Johansson (“Her,” Spike Jonze, U.S.)
EMERGING ACTOR OR ACTRESS
the entire cast of “Acrid,” Kiarash Asadizadch, Iran
Koichi Takahashi for “Seventh Code,” Japan
Tayfun Pirselimoglu for “I Am Not Him,” Turkey
Cui Jian for “Blue Sky Bones,” China
CINEMAXXI AWARD FOR BEST FILM
“Nepal Forever,” by Aliona Polunina, Russia
CINEMAXXI SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Birmingham Ornament 2,” by Andrey Silvestrov and Yury Leiderman, Ukraine, Russia
CINEMAXXI AWARD FOR SHORT FILMS
“The Incomplete,” Jan Soldat, Germany
SPECIAL MENTION CINEMAXXI SHORTS
“The Buried Alive Videos,” Roce Rosen, Israel
PROSPETTIVE DOC ITALIA SECTION
BEST ITALIAN DOCUMENTARY
“Dal profondo,” Valentina Pedicini
“Fuoristrada,” Elisa Amoruso
TAODUE AWARD FOR BEST FIRST/SECOND FILM
“Out of the Furnace,” Scott Cooper, U.S.
TAODUE AWARD FOR BEST EMERGING PRODUCER
Jean Denis Le Dinahet and Sebastien Msika for “South is Nothing,” Fabio Mollo, Italy
BNL AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FILM
“Dallas Buyers Club,” Jean-Marc Vallee, U.S.