You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rome Film Festival Screenings to Be Held at Drive-in, Prison, Spanish Steps

ROME — The upcoming Rome Film Festival (Oct. 13-23) will feature several novelties, including a drive-in theater specially set up on the city’s outskirts; a red carpet rolled out on the fashionable Via Condotti for an open-air “Roman Holiday” event in front of the Spanish Steps; and screenings in the city’s Rebibbia penitentiary. For regular fest-goers, the lineup offers a mix of crowd-pleasers and more esoteric titles.

Artistic director Antonio Monda, at the helm for his second edition, spoke to Variety about his renewed efforts to revamp the Eternal City’s festival. Excerpts:

You’ve picked the cream of the fall festival crop, and also landed some world premieres. What can you tell me about potential discoveries launching this year from Rome?

First off I’m very happy about the opener, “Moonlight,” one of the year’s top films, which I think is headed for Oscar glory. Though it’s not a crowd-pleaser, I’m proud of our choice. We are not hell-bent on world premieres, but we do like to discover new works. Most of our premieres are Italian. That said, we have [Chinese director] Derek Yee’s “Sword Master 3D,” which is a lovely picture. The Italian discovery we are proud of is “Maria per Roma,” a first work [by Karen di Porto], a comedy with the atmosphere of [Gianni di Gregorio’s] “Mid-August Lunch” and a narrative approach reminiscent of early Nanni Moretti. Then among other premieres we have an Iranian film, Mehdi Fard Ghaderi’s “Immortality,” which is shot in a single take. And we have several Latin American works, including Mexican director Natalia Almada’s “Todo lo demas” (“Everything Else”), which is world-premiering in Rome and also playing, a few hours later, in New York. I asked them for the world premiere because I needed to raise my premieres quota.

Rome seems to be turning into a bigger promotional platform for Italian movies than Venice, especially since last year it launched “They Call Me Jeeg,” which went on to become a sleeper hit. Are Italian distributors now opting for Rome vis-a-vis Venice?

Venice historically has been a double-edged sword for Italian movies. That said, I’m very selective about the titles we take, and I think this pays off. I have four strong titles this year. One, “Maria per Roma,” is a first work; the others are solid important works by established directors. I am surprised that Daniele Vicari’s “Sun, Heart, Love” did not emerge earlier on the festival circuit. Michele Placido’s “7 Minuti” is a powerful drama, and “Naples ’44”  is an engaging documentary bursting with energy that can play on a par with any feature and I think is going to make a splash.

So you don’t think Italian cinema is in a rut? That seemed to be the message in Venice.

No, I don’t. Venice had [Edoardo de Angelis’] “Indivisible” [in Venice Days, and then in Toronto], which I would have taken gladly. It’s true that when I talk to directors they feel more protected in Rome, which may partly have to do with the fact that we really believe in their films.

The onstage conversations are one of the event’s components closest to your heart. What are some of this year’s names you are most proud of which also best represent Rome’s specificity on the global fest circuit?

We have Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, David Mamet, just to name a few; the bar is very high. One of the traits I want for Rome is to not just have movie people, but also people [from other fields] who talk about movies. We will have [Italian rapper] Jovanotti talking about his favorite movies; Don De Lillo will talk for an hour about Michelangelo Antonioni. I am surprised that no other festival thought about inviting David Mamet, a giant whose talent of course is not specific to movies, though he has done great things in the film sphere. Then we have Gilbert & George, two visual artists who will come to talk about their favorite karate movie.

Standouts among special events this year are a drive-in cinema at EUR, Rome’s modernist district; an open-air screening of William Wyler’s “Roman Holiday” in the Piazza di Spagna with a red carpet on the Via Condotti and Gregory Peck’s progeny expected; but also screenings in Rome’s Rebibbia penitentiary. What is your thinking about this aspect?

We are catering to different realities in Rome. I really cared about the drive-in idea: going out to have fun, with burgers and popcorn. Going to the movies like in the ’60s and ’70s to get away from it all for a couple of hours. But at the same time I wanted to bring movies to those who don’t usually get to see them. This festival is a dialogue with all different Romans – with the upper-class lady who will come out for a gala evening in Piazza di Spagna, with the folks behind bars, and also with lovers who can get in a car and go do what you do when you go to a drive-in.

More Film

  • Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in

    Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' for Netflix

    Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman will star in the movie adaptation of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” for Netflix. George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues”) will direct from a script by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, based on the award-winning play by August Wilson. Other cast include Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Michael Potts. Denzel [...]

  • Crazy Bitches

    Why the CASE Act Will Empower Creatives to Fight the Horrors of Piracy

    Our horror film, “Crazy Bitches,” was released on Valentine’s Day 2015. We invested in an online marketing campaign that resulted in two times the industry clickthrough rate and 2.6M social media impressions in the week leading up to the release. So, we had reason to expect a successful return. What we didn’t count on was [...]

  • Alamo Drafthouse LA

    Alamo Drafthouse to Open in Downtown Los Angeles in July

    The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain is planning to open its first Los Angeles location with a “soft launch” in early July in the city’s downtown. The Texas-based chain, which has 38 locations, specializes food and drink service with unique programming. It announced Wednesday that the Los Angeles site, located at the Bloc, would offer an [...]

  • Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following

    Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following Sexual Assault Allegations

    Max Landis has been dropped as a client by his manager, a day after sexual assault allegations emerged against the  screenwriter. “I do not represent Max Landis,” Britton Rizzio at Writ Large Management told Variety in a statement. Landis is facing allegations of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation from eight women who told their stories [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Another Round of Layoffs Hit Disney and 20th Century Fox Film Divisions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another round of layoffs are going down for employees merged in Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, individuals with knowledge of the company told Variety. The Wednesday reduction is the smallest round the studio has enacted since formally acquiring the film and TV assets of 20th Century in March, with a few dozen employees being [...]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Netflix Lands Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Tick, Tick... Boom' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following a heated bidding war, Netflix has walked away with the rights to “Tick, Tick… Boom,” a musical adaptation to be directed by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sources say Andrew Garfield is the top choice to star, though no deal is done. “Dear Evan Hansen” writer Stephen Levenson adapting the script based on the original [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content