BBC’s ‘War’ stars in festival

Show was big winner at Rome Fiction Fest

The BBC’s innovative skein “10 Days to War,” reconstructing the countdown to military action in the 2003 Iraq war, was the big winner of the ambitious Rome Fiction Fest, which wrapped Saturday on a high note, trumpeting plans for a TV mart.

The Jordan-shot BBC docudrama produced by Bruce Goodson and David Belton, and starring Kenneth Branagh as Col. Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment, scooped Rome fiction nods for overall product and top TV movie.

The other big winner of the Rome TV event was Italy’s “Boris,” a spoof of Italo soaps and the shady productive milieu in which they are sometimes shot, which nabbed a special mention and the fest’s Long Series prize.

Produced by Rome shingle Wilder and aired on Sky Italia’s Fox Channel, “Boris” is the first Italo skein financed by Sky, where it has been holding its own in the ratings with Hollywood shows like “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Rome pitching sessions, held by former Banff fest topper Pat Ferns, were won by South African Broadcasting Corp.’s “The Commandments,” an ambitious 10-telepic project showcasing a new generation of African filmmakers that was also presented at Rotterdam’s CineMart.

The sessions, which saw some 300 projects participating and a slew of international execs, including HBO’s senior veep Len Amato and BBC co-productions topper Jesse Cleverly, will be taken a step further next year and transformed into a bona-fide skeins mart to be called Business Street@RomeFictionFest.

 Second edition of the deep-pocketed weeklong event, with an $11.5 million budget, saw 194 shows screen to packed houses in Rome’s Adriano Theater and Auditorium Conciliazione, registering a 36,000-strong attendance, up 20% from the previous edition. Increased auds and also greater industryite presence signal consensus for new artistic director’s Steve Della Casa’s more tightly focused and populist course.

Hollywood stars in attendance included “Medium” star Patricia Arquette, “Law & Order’s” Christopher Meloni, “Dirty Sexy Money’s” Natalia Zia and Kim Cattrall of “Sex and the City.”

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