Euro telepics rule Rome festival

Event boasts 29 world premieres

ROME — Euro telepics dominate the lineup of the nascent RomaFictionFest, which boasts 29 world preems with a decidedly Eurocentric bent, but will also comprise fresh fiction from China, Iran and Hollywood, repped by the first episodes of ABC’s “Masters of Science Fiction” skein.

Hot-button politics and social themes feature prominently in the hefty dose of continental European fare that will be on display in the debut edition of the ambitious sister event to the RomeFilmFest.

RomaFiction artistic topper Felice Laudadio underscored preems of Teutonic telepic “Eine einzige Teblette” (A Single Pill) about the thalidomide drug scandal that caused birth defects of thousands of babies — a legal battle has prevented this hot pic from airing in Germany — and Gaul’s “L’Affaire Ben Barka,” an expose of the 1965 abduction and murder of Moroccan opposition leader Ben Barka in Paris.

As previously announced mega pan-European skein “War and Peace” will be unveiled, with its producers from seven European countries, as well as topliners Brenda Blethyn and Malcolm McDowell, in tow.

“European fiction is going through an extremely prolific phase, filling primetime slots where Hollywood used to rule,” Laudadio told Daily Variety.

“That’s why the response from Europe has been very strong, while the Americans have a more wait-and-see attitude,” Laudadio added.

Three segs of “Masters of Science Fiction” — “A Clean Escape,” “Awakening” and “The Discarded” — will world preem in Rome with producers and stars, including Anne Heche and Sam Waterston, attending. Series is produced by IDT Entertainment for ABC.

China’s “My Internship Life,” about the clash between tradition and capitalism in a big Chinese TV station, and Iran’s “The Poet Child,” about a child and his father contending with Iranian bureaucracy, are among non-Euro entries preeming.

The Mafia will feature prominently as an Italo skein theme, with “The Last Godfather,” about Cosa Nostra boss Bernardo Provenzano, unspooling alongside biopic “Il Generale Dalla Chiesa,” a biopic of a heroic general gunned down by the Sicilian mob.

On the industry side, former Banff fest topper Pat Ferns will be conducting his trademark Market Simulation pitching sessions, though attendees are not yet firmed.

Laudadio conceded that the Rome TV fest’s positioning less than a month after Banff is among considerations for his now mulling a different time slot for the event.

RomaFictionFest, which has a sizeable $6 million budget from regional coffers and private sponsors, will take place July 2-7.

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