Fest takes populist approach | Extra eclectic

Reviving Rome’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ | Where to eat | Seeking bargains | Where to visit | Rome after dark | A Gelato crawl through Rome

When the City of Rome devised an ambitious plan for a top-tier international film festival, they knew that the Via Veneto of “La Dolce Vita” fame had to be factored into the equation.

Now, five years later, Rome’s Business Street movie mart has found its footing on the avenue where Federico Fellini coined the term “paparazzi” in the Eternal City’s Hollywood on the Tiber days.

“It’s been a key to our success,” says the informal mart’s coordinator, Diamara Parodi Delfino.

“The idea was to bring the Via Veneto grandeur back to life, but this time counterbalancing the frivolous cinematic glamour it used to stand for with film-business gravitas.”

Since the demise of Milan’s Mifed film market a few years ago, Italy aspired to establish another film mart it could call its own.

But rather than conceive a bulky, hunkered down affair — in its bid to become Europe’s third movie market — Rome opted for a much lighter touch which, in hindsight, has proved timely.

So, instead of stands, the Business Street mart offers terraces with breathtaking views and free drinks, atop Via Veneto-area hotels, where execs can hold meetings after taking in screenings in nearby cityplex cinemas: The idea being that the last thing companies want these days is to shoulder additional costs.

“We’ve never wanted to compete with the Berlin and Cannes markets; that’s why we gave ourselves a much lighter infrastructure,” says Parodi Delfino.

The Rome market’s main hub is the Bernini Bristol hotel, on the Piazza Barberini, with its roof garden, renamed the Disaronno Contemporary Terrace space, ideal for free-form meetings. This is where you go if you need to catch someone on the fly.

The Hotel Majestic, on the Via Veneto, also with a terrific terrace, is where the myriad workshops, presentations and confabs are held, including a Variety panel this year on the impact of the Web on film journalism and marketing. The Majestic serves as headquarters of Italian motion picture association ANICA and also of the EU’s Eurimages co-productions entity, which will be awarding two nods during the fest.

Rome’s informal mart has also expanded into the Via Veneto’s Marriott Grand Hotel Flora, which boasts a rooftop with one of Rome’s most sweeping vantage points. The venue is now the headquarters for the New Cinema Network co-production mart, which has launched a partnership with the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. The Hotel Flora will also host the Business Street’s new Industry Books section.

A few yards away in the Villa Borghese park is Rome’s Casa del Cinema cinematheque where, aside from a slew of offbeat screenings, European Film Promotion will be holding its Shooting Stars showcase celebrating emerging European talent.

And, while there is certainly a lot going on, “the atmosphere is human,” says Parodi Delfino. “It’s not fast-paced and frenetic like Cannes or Berlin.”