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Rome fest mixes flavors

Italo festival reels in Euro fare

ROME — A mix of populist pics and more eclectic fare, with a decidedly European bent, makes up the ambitious 95-pic lineup of RomeFilmFest’s first edition unveiled Tuesday.

While organizers said preems were not their top priority, the Eternal City’s new event — which Fest runs Oct. 13-21 — has secured several notable world bows, including those of Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” Lasse Hallstrom’s “The Hoax,” Guillaume Nicloux’s “The Stone Council” and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “The Unknown.”

As previously announced, nine-day fest will open Oct. 13 with U.S. helmer Steven Shainberg’s Diane Arbus pic “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus,” for which star Nicole Kidman is expected on the red carpet. Picturehouse film, sneak-previewed in Telluride, opens Stateside in November.

The rather scant U.S. fare among fest’s five sections include the European launches of Martin Scorsese’s South Boston-set gangster pic “The Departed,” which the helmer and Leonardo DiCaprio are set to tubthump at the fest; mockumentary “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” which played at Toronto; Lionsgate’s “Akeelah and the Bee”; and Sundance Beastie Boys docu “Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That!”

Most of the titles in the Euro-centric 17-title competition bowed elsewhere. Included are works by known arthouse-circuit quantities such as Shane Meadows’ “This Is England,” from Blighty; Otar Iosseliani’s “Gardens in Autumn,” from Gaul; Susanne Bier’s “After the Wedding,” from Denmark; and Argentine Pablo Trapero’s intimate drama “Born and Bred.” Latter three were in Toronto.

Attesting to Rome’s warm rapport with South Korea’s Pusan Film Festival, with which dates overlap, the two fests are co-preeming two Asian entries — cult Japanese helmer Shinya Tsukamoto’s thriller “Nightmare Detective” and Hong Kong helmer Patrick Tam’s father-and-son drama “After This Our Exile.”

Copious Gallic contingent includes Catherine Corsini’s “Les Ambitieux,” set in the Paris publishing world, which screens out of competition; “The Legacy,” by France-based Georgian helmer Gela Babluani; and first-timer Laurent Herbiet’s Algeria-set “The Colonel,” which is touted as an homage to Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers.”

Competition includes two more first works plus other world preems by off-the-radar helmers.

Italo entries include Francesca Comencini’s money-themed drama “A casa nostra,” starring Valeria Golino, and “L’Aria salata,” by first-timer Alessandro Angelini, about a jail social worker.

No U.S. titles will vie for the fest’s top E200,000 ($254,000) Bulgari-designed Marcus Aurelius prize, decided by a jury of 50 frequent Roman filmgoers headed by Ettore Scola.

“This is a festival for the people of Rome, not for the few hundred people on the planet who care about whether a film is a world premiere,” said fest co-topper Mario Sesti, reiterating the nascent event’s mandate to help build a mass audience for quality pics — and for Italian cinema — at the packed press conference in Rome’s Auditorium.

Attending was Rome’s film-buff Mayor Walter Veltroni, the driving force behind the RomeFilmFest, who downplayed its much ballyhooed rivalry with Venice, praising the Lido’s recently ended edition and speaking of “mutual respect.”

Venice Biennale topper Davide Croff also was in the audience.

Besides “Fur,” the red-carpet Premiere section is pretty evenly split between Hollywood and Euro pics, with key cast expected to make the trek for most launches.

Based on the novel by Christopher Priest, “The Prestige” pits stage magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in a deadly feud in 19th century Blighty. Pic, which also stars David Bowie as an inventor and electrical wizard, bows Stateside Oct. 20 via Buena Vista Pictures.

Miramax’s Hallstrom-helmed “The Hoax” toplines Richard Gere as writer Clifford Irving, who penned a bogus Howard Hughes “autobiography” that became a bestseller.

Monica Bellucci will be a protag in two world-premiere entries: Paolo Virzi’s Napoleon-themed “N: Napoleon and Me,” and Gaul helmer Nicloux’s “The Stone Council,” an esoteric thriller partly set in Mongolia.

Viggo Mortensen will be on the red carpet for “Alatriste,” Spanish helmer Agustin Diaz Yanes’ tale of the 17th century Spanish soldier-turned-mercenary.

Premiere galas also include helmer Mira Nair’s “The Namesake,” based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, and “Uno su due,” a disease-themed drama by Italo helmer Eugenio Cappuccio (“To Sleep Next to Her”).

Tornatore’s noirish “The Unknown,” about a mysterious Eastern European woman hired as a servant by a bourgeois family in Trieste, will close the Premiere section.

Harrison Ford is expected to come to Rome to hand out the fest’s Patricia McQueeney Award, dedicated to an actor’s agent or manager and named after his late agent.

The fest will feature a lifetime achievement tribute to Sean Connery, who will be honored with a Marcus Aurelius nod and a retrospective. Homage also is being paid to New York’s Actors Studio with a retrospective of titles from its early days, including “On the Waterfront,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Fest will present a 47-pic retrospective as a tribute to Marcello Mastroianni to mark the 10th anniversary of the Italo thesp’s death. Tributes also are on tap to mark Roberto Rossellini’s and Luchino Visconti’s centennials.

Some 300 international industryites, including 60 sellers, are signed up for the Business Street market (Oct. 14-16) on the Italo capital’s swanky Via Veneto, where “La Dolce Vita” paparazzi once stalked.

FIRST ROME FILM FEST COMPETITION — CINEMA 2006
“A Casa Nostra,” Francesca Comencicni (Italy)
“Nightmare Detective,” Shinya Tsukamoto (Japan)
“L’aria Salata,” Alessandro Angelini (Italy)
“Times and Winds,” Reha Erdem (Turkey)
“Cages,” Olivier Masset-Depasse (Belgium-France)
“A Few Days Later…,” Niki Karimi (Iran)
“After This Our Exile,” Patrik Tam (Hong Kong)
“The Legacy,” Temur Babluani and Gela Babluani (Georgia-France)
“Playing The Victim,” Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
“Gardens in Autumn,” Otar Iosseliani (France-Italy-Russia)
“L’intouchable,” Benoit Jacquot (France)
“The Colonel,” Laurent Herbiet (France, Belgium)
“Born and Bred,” Pablo Trapero (Argentina-Italy-U.K.)
“La Strada Di Levi,” Davide Ferrario (Italy)
“This Is England,” Shane Meadows .(U.K)
“Le Voyage en Armenie,” Robert Guediguian (Armenia)
“The Go Master,” Tian Zhuangzhuang (China)

OUT OF COMPETITION
“Les Ambitieux,” Catherine Corsini (France)
“After the Wedding,” Susanne Bier (Denmark)
“Offset,” Didi Danquart (Germany)

PREMIERE
“Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus,” Steven Shainberg (U.S.)
“Alariste,” Agustin Diaz Yanes (Spain)
“The Stone Council,” Guillaume Nicloux (France-Italy-Germany)
“The Hoax,” Lasse Hallstrom (U.S.)
“N (Io e Napoleone),” Paolo Virzi (Italy)
“The Namesake,” Mira Nair (U.S.)
“The Prestige,” Christopher Nolan (U.S.)
“The Unknown,” Giuseppe Tornatore (Italy)
“Uno su Due,” Eugenio Cappuccio (Italy)

SPECIAL EVENTS
“The Departed,” Martin Scorsese (U.S.)
“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorius Nation of Kazakhstan,” Larry Charles (U.S.)
“Nos Jours Hereux,” Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (France)
“L’Uomo Della Carita -Don Luigi di Liegro,” Alessandro di Robilant (Italy)
“Viaggio Segreto,” Roberto Ando (Italy)

EXTRA SECTION
“Halflife,” Briccio Santos (Philippines)
“American Vertigo,” Michko Netchak (France)
“Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That,” Adam Yaouch a.k.a. Nathaniel Hornblower (U.S.)
“Black Gold,” Marc Francis, Nick Francis (U.K.)
“The Wise Cat Catches Mice,” Francesca Conversano, Nene Grignaffini (Italy)
“The Bridge,” Eric Steel (U.S.)
“Cashback,” Sean Ellis (U.K.)
“Checosamanca,” Chiara Bellosi, Marco Ferrini, Enrico Cerasuolo, Francesco Cressati, Andrea D’ambrosio, Sergio Fergnachino, Martina Parenti, Alice Rohrwacher, Andrea Segre, Nicola Zucchi (Italy)
“Dear Anne,” Dario Picciau (Italy)
“Deep Water,” Louise Osmond, Jerry Rothwell (U.K.)
“The Last Caravanserai,” Ariane Mnouchkine, Theatre Du Soleil (France)
“Fascisti Su Marte,” Corrado Guzzanti (Italy)
“Blame it on Fidel,” Julie Gavras (Italy)
“Grido,” Pippo Delbono (Italy)
“Herbie Hancock: Possibilities,” Doug Biro, Jon Fine (U.S.)
“The Conspiracy,” Emilio Pacull (France, Chile)
“Histoire d’eaux,” Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy)
“Dailies,” Riccardo Paoletti (Italy)
“Jamal,” Luisella Ratiglia (Italy)
“How is Your Fish Today,” Xiaolu Guo (UK, China)
“Summer Heat,” Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)
“Kinshasa Palace,” Zeka Laplaine (Congo-France)
“Kurt Cobain About a Son,” Aj Schnack (U.S.)
“The Lew Rudin Way,” David Hoffman (U.S.)
“Machinima,” various directors from all over the world
“Il Mondo Addosso,” Costanza Quatriglio (Italy)
“Muoiono Soltanto Gli…” Margherita Ferrandino Giovanni Veronesi (Italy)
“The Mist in the Palm Trees,” Carlos Molinero, Lola Salvador (Spain)
“Emergency in Cambogia,” Claudio Rubino, Emanuele Scaringi (Italy)
“Renaissance,” Christian Volckman (France-UK-Luxembourg)
“Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles,” Zhang Yimou (Hong Kong-China-Japan)
“Homecomeings,” Giovanna Taviani (Italy-France)
“Ritratto di Sconosciuto- Marcellus Dominicus Vincentius,” Roberto Medddi, Gioia Magrini (Italy)
“Sartoria Tirelli – Dressing The Cinema,” Gianfranco Giagni (Italy)
“Shut Up and Sing,” Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck (U.S.)
“Siluro Rosso- La Straordinaria Storia di Ruben Gallego,” Marta Chiaretti (Italy)
“Sorelle,” Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
“Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project,” Jack Youngelson, Peter Sutherland (U.S.)
“Tre Donne Morali,” Marcello Garofalo (Italy)
“Uomini Forti,” Steve Della Casa (Italy)
“La Vera Leggenda di Tony Vilar,” Giuseppe Gagliardi (Italy)

EXTRA SECTION, SPECIAL EVENTS
“Memories About Sayat Nova” Levon Grigorian (Armenia)
“The Yacoubian Building,” Marwan Hamed (Egypt)
“The War Tapes,” Deborah Scranton (U.S.)

EXTRA SECTION, FOX INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME
“Sampras,” Luca Vendruscolo (Italy)
“City of Men,” Fernando Meirelles, Paulo Morelli, Katia Lund, Philippe Barcinski, Regina Case (Brazil)
“E Morto Cattelan! Evviva Cattelan!” Marco Penso (Italy)

ALICE IN THE CITY COMPETITION
“Akeelah and the Bee,” Doug Atchison (U.S.)
“Vitus,” Fredi M. Murer (Switzerland)
“A Year in my Life,” Daniel Duval (France)
“Azur et Azmar,” Michel Ocelot (France)
“U,” Serge Elissalde and Gregoire Solotareff (France)
“Liscio,” Claudio Antonini (Italy)
“Je m’apelle Elisabeth,” Jean-Pierre Ameris (France)
“Brave Story,” Koichi Chigra (Japan)
“Love and Dance,” Eitan Anner (Israel)
“Driving Lessons,” Jeremy Brock (U.K.)
“Two Sons of Francisco,” Breno Silveira (Brazil)
“Red Needles,” Jean-Francois Davy (France)
“Swimmers,” Doug Sadler (U.S.)
“Triple Dare,” Christina Rosendahl (Denmark)
“Just Like the Son,” Morgan J. Freeman (U.S.)
“I’m Reed Fish,” Zackary Adler (U.S.)

ALICE IN THE CITY OUT-OF-COMPETITION
“Over the Hedge,” Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick (U.S.)
“Rosso Come il Cielo,” Cristiano Bortone (Italy)
“Salvatore – Questa E La Vita,” Gian Paolo
Cugno (Italy)
“Open Season,” Roger Allers, Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi (U.S.)

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