Films from all corners fight to conquer Rome

'Road,' 'Juno' vie in competition

A pair of U.S. films — Terry George's "Reservation Road" and Jason Reitman's "Juno" — will be among those challenging for the Marcus Aurelius Award at the second edition of RomaCinemaFest.

The main competition lineup for the Oct. 18-27 event includes production or co-production credits from 18 countries, with 14 films scheduled to screen, including 10 world premieres.

Organizers unveiled the fest slate Thursday in Rome.

While the competition sector hails from points scattered around the globe, the event's out-of-competition strand has taken on a decidedly Hollywood flavor.

The 12-film Premiere sidebar includes eight more U.S. films, not counting "Youth Without Youth," from Francis Ford Coppola, which is a Germany-France-Italy co-production.

The out of competition films in the main section includes still more U.S. titles, with Robert Redford's directorial effort "Lions for Lambs" and Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" among the highlights.

Festival organizers said they did not set out to pick films from any particular nation.

"We looked for films of a certain quality, and that's what we got," festival co-director Giorgio Gossetti told attendees inside a packed auditorium at Rome's Parco della Musica after the lineup was announced.

"Lions," which stars Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise, joins "Into the Wild" from Sean Penn. "Wild," part of the Premiere section with Coppola's "Youth," stars Emile Hirsch in the main role and boasts a supporting cast featuring William Hurt and Vince Vaughn.

Organizers hope Redford, Cruise and Penn will add star power to a red carpet in Rome already expected to feature Coppola, Lumet, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Monica Bellucci, Patti Smith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Colin Firth, Val Kilmer, Matthew Modine, Sophia Loren, Terrence Malick, Jane Fonda, Gerard Depardieu and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Dario Argento will be in town for the European premiere of "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother," the final film in his "Three Mothers" trilogy, but he won't appear on the red carpet. Organizers said they will roll out a special black carpet to honor the famed Italian horror film director, who also is being feted in Rome with a retrospective that includes the other two films in the trilogy: "Suspiria" and "Inferno."

Among the non-U.S. films in competition are "Barcelona, a Map" from Spain's Ventura Pons, "The Vanishing Point" from France's Laurent De Bartillat, fellow Frenchman Alain Corneau's "Second Wind," "Fugitive Pieces" from Canadian Jeremy Podeswa, "And the Spring Comes" from China's Chang Wei Gu and two homegrown products: "The Private Man" from Emidio Greco and "The Right Distance" from Carlo Mazzacurati.

The Premiere sidebar will feature "Silk," an English- and Japanese-language Canada-Italy-Japan co-production from Quebec director Francois Girard. The film, which tells the story of a 19th century silkworm merchant-turned-smuggler, stars Keira Knightley and Alfred Molina.

Other highlights of the Premiere section include "The Dukes" from Robert Davi; Martin Schmidt and Henry Bean's "Noise"; "Enchanted," from Kevin Lima; Julie Taymor's "Across the Universe"; and "Days and Clouds," from Italian director Silvio Soldini and starring Margherita Buy.

Also announced Thursday was the lineup for the competitive Alice in the City sidebar, Rome's event for films aimed at young viewers. Of the 14 films in competition, eight are world premieres, including "Have Dreams, Will Travel" from Brad Isaacs and starring Val Kilmer, "Surviving With Wolves" from France's Vera Belmont, and "My Very Best Friend" by Isabelle Doval, also from France.

As previously announced, Loren will appear to receive a career achievement award, and Blanchett will break in the red carpet when she arrives to give a boost to "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." Blanchett will be the second Australian in the Rome event's two editions to open the festival. Nicole Kidman opened the festival a year ago with "Fur."

The complete RomaCinemaFest lineup can be found at hollywoodreporter.com.
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