The Rome Film Festival’s 10th edition comprises a rich mix of crowdpleasing and more esoteric fare, including local launches of James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour,” Michael Almereyda’s “The Experimenter,” Peter Sollett’s “Freehold,” pictured, Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room,” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s docu “Junun” about Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s travels to India.
Under new direction by New York-based Italian journalist and academic Antonio Monda, the Rome fest has been renamed Festa del Cinema – which translates literally as “Film Party” rather than festival. The only award is given by the audience.
Monda said he decided to do away with the competition, the juries, and the opening and closing ceremonies “all rituals that I view as too stuffy and conventional, inappropriate to what I had in mind.” He instead kept the audience nod “to underscore the idea of a ‘people’s festival’,” the Rome topper added. Monda has also forged an alliance with the London Film Festival, with which it overlaps, and its artistic director Clare Stewart. “We decided to share our list of invitees, and alternate premiers of films on different dates in London and Rome,” he said.
Rome’s reconfigured slimmed-down, more focussed, metropolitan affair mixes genres from around the world, including TV series such as “Fargo – Season Two” and hit Israeli skein “Fauda,” which depicts both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has been optioned for an English-language remake by HBO.
An ample retro will be dedicated to Pixar Animation Studios twenty years after the release of “Toy Story,” it’s first release. The retro will include footage from upcoming Disney/Pixar feature “The Good Dinosaur” and a masterclass with Kelsey Mann, story supervisor on “The Good Dinosaur” and “Monsters University.”
European entries include family drama “Grandma” (“Amama”) a chronicle of modernization in a Basque rural world, directed by Asier Altuna; Italian director Claudio Cupellini’s melodrama “Alaska,” toplining Italo A-listers Elio Germano and Alba Rohrwacher; Dutch director David Verbeek’s drone operator drama “Full Contact”; young Russian director Vladimir Beck’s rite of passage drama “Little Bird”; and French helmer Laurent Lafarge’s “The Mad Kings,” about drunkenness and small-town social dynamics in Southern France.
Monda has recruited a high-caliber roster of speakers for onstage conversations including Jude Law; Wes Anderson and author Donna Tartt, who will talk about their love for Italian cinema; Joel Coen and Frances McDormand, who will explore the relationship between husband and wife on set; William Friedkin and Dario Argento will hold forth on their influence on each other; and Paolo Sorrentino. A director’s cut of Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” will unspool.
Tributes will be paid to Pier Paolo Pasolini, 40 after the great Italian director still mysterious death, and also to lesser known auteur Antonio Pietrangeli will get a special tribute, in collaboration with the Istituto Luce Cinecitta, which will segue in November to the MoMA in New York.
As previously announced, the opener will be James Vanderbilt’s “ “Truth,” starring Robert Redford as Dan Rather,and Cate Blanchett as his producer Mary Mapes, in a depiction of the “Memogate” controversy that ended Rather’s career as CBS News anchorman. Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk” will also launch into Italy from Rome.
The Rome fest now also boasts a beefed up market component called MIA- an acronym for Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo, which expands the mart’s scope from just feature films to TV series, documentaries and video games. They are launching Make It With Italy, a co-production forum for international projects seeking an Italian minority co-production partner as part of the mart’s stated mission to make the Italian film industry more international.
The 10th edition of the Rome fest will run Oct. 16-23.
For the complete lineup go to: www.romacinemafest.it