Rome Film Festival artistic director Antonio Monda on Monday unveiled a rich lineup for the event’s 15th edition, which is on track to take place Oct. 15-25 as a physical event. It comprises 24 titles repping a well-assorted mix of mainstream movies in the official selection – such as Pixar’s “Soul,” the fest’s opener – and also more eclectic fare.
Most of the films have surfaced previously, including nine entries that carry a Cannes 2020 label. And among these Monda regrets he was unable to get “The French Dispatch” by Wes Anderson, a director with whom he has a personal rapport.
Still, Monda has also secured some world premieres this year, including “Home,” which marks the directorial debut of German actor Franka Potente (“The Bourne Supremacy”), and Algeria-set drama “My Traitor, My Love,” by France’s Helier Cisterne.
And he is expecting some high-caliber international guests to be on hand. Among these Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and “White Teeth” author Zadie Smith, who will hold onstage conversations that are Monda’s trademark. And also British director Steve McQueen who, barring complications, will be coming for a screening of his “Small Axe” trilogy, to hold a talk, and also to be honored with a career prize.
Monda spoke to Variety about the challenges of assembling this year’s edition of his popular Festa del Cinema, as the event is known locally, including maintaining Rome’s red carpet complete with cheering fans. Excerpts from the conversation.
Who are some of the top guests you’ve been able to get?
As things stand we are expecting Steve McQueen, Zadie Smith, John Waters, Thom Yorke, Thomas Vinterberg, Francois Ozon and, among the Italians, Gianfranco Rosi and soccer icon Francesco Totti, who will be doing the red carpet amid an exulting audience, albeit at a distance.
You’ve stated that most movies will be screening with talents in tow. How does it work in terms of sanitary rules?
Under Italian rules people can enter the country from most of the world for work reasons. They have to do a swab test three days before departure, then another swab when they arrive at the airport, and with that they can stay in Italy for five days.
How will the red carpet work?
The red carpet will be narrower that usual. But unlike Venice (where the catwalk was blocked to fans by barriers) it will be viewable by the public, albeit at a distance and also from the so-called Cavea, the outdoor venue that is situated directly above it. All talents on the red carpet will have had various sanitary checks and will be contact-traceable.
This year all red carpet activity will be strictly to Ennio Morricone music
Yes. To homage the maestro all music on the red carpet this year will be exclusively by Ennio Morricone. Including the themes to “Mission,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” and also the pop songs he wrote. The best of Ennio Morricone.
What are some of the titles you are particularly happy to have?
I am very proud that we will be screening the Garrett Bradley doc “Time,” about a woman striving to keep her family together while fighting for the release of her incarcerated husband, which we got from Amazon. It’s not a world premiere, but I really love this film. I’m also particularly glad we got the international premiere of U.S. comedy “Palm Springs” with Andy Samberg, to name a couple.
What about the Italian films?
The Italian films in the official selection are all first works. We are gambling on the future. One, a drama titled “Fortuna,” is by a former Paolo Sorrentino assistant, Nicolangelo Gelormini; another is directed by a 27-year-old named Gipo Fasano. He’s made “Le Eumenidi,” a drama based on Aeschylus’ “The Eumenides,” set in present-day Rome in the Parioli quarter shot with cellphones on a 9,000 Euro budget. These are the kinds of films I want the Rome Film Festival to stand for.