‘Tromeo’ triumphs in Rome

ROME — “Tromeo & Juliet”, the latest effort of Troma producer-director Lloyd Kaufman, walked away with top honors at the 17th Fantafestival in Rome. Audiences at the popular June 10-17 sci-fi and fantasy event awarded the prize by a sweeping majority.

Walking onstage to accept the award in front of three Italian Oscar-winners — Michelangelo Antonioni, Gabriele Salvatores and special-effects master Carlo Rambaldi — Kaufman immediately whipped out his own “Troma Diploma” and presented it to surprised festival chiefs Adriano Pintaldi and Alberto Ravaglioli, noting that his company was more used to giving prizes than receiving them.

Kaufman, who is currently working on “Schlock and Schlockability: The Revenge of Jane Austen,” announced his interest in shooting a yet-to-be-written film in Italy at the just-opened Terni Film Studios in Umbria. Also on hand was “Re-Animator” producer-director Brian Yuzna, heading back to L.A. to start “Progeny,” which he described as “an alien ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ ”

Other Fantafestival winners included New Zealand’s “The Ugly” (for Scott Reynolds’ story and Paolo Rotondo’s acting), Canada’s “Karmina” (best actress Isabelle Cyr) and the Norwegian “Chasing the Kidneystone” for special effects.

Despite the raging popularity of the genre with young Italo auds, Italy has always lagged behind in producing fantasy and sci-fi. This year could be a turning point, however, with the success of Salvatores’ computer fantasy “Nirvana” and Maurizio Nichetti’s whimsical “Luna and the Other,” which came home with top honors from the Brussels Intl. Festival of Fantasy, Thriller & Science Fiction Films this spring.

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