'Lambs' stars walk in like lions at Rome fest

Elsewhere, Lee makes surprise visit

Enjoying the first clear skies since the event kicked off, the largest red-carpet crowds of this year's RomaCinemaFest turned out Tuesday to greet the arrival of Robert Redford and Tom Cruise.

The two stars — along with castmates Michael Pena and Andrew Garfield — were on hand to promote "Lions for Lambs," Redford's latest directorial effort, which examines the impact of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in three separate but intertwined stories.

Redford said the film, which screened to an enthusiastic packed house at the Parco della Musica, was his attempt to spark interest in the issues of the day.

"I don't consider myself a director of political films, but I did want to encourage people to become more engaged," Redford told a standing-room-only press briefing. "This film doesn't provide any answers, but I hope it encourages people to ask questions."

Wearing hair cut short on the sides with long bangs for his latest role, Cruise flew in directly from the set of "Valkyrie," in which he plays the leader of a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Redford and Cruise were not the only big-name personalities to appear Tuesday. Oscar-winning director Ang Lee showed up unannounced on his 53rd birthday.

Lee was in town ahead of Wednesday's screening of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West." The 39-year-old film was refurbished by a group led by Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, of which Lee is a member.

Lee has spent a great deal of time in Italy in recent years. Between 2005's Oscar-winning "Brokeback Mountain" and this year's "Lust, Caution," he has earned two of the past three Golden Lion awards at the Venice Film Festival.

Horror director Dario Argento and his daughter, actress Asia Argento, also were in their native Rome on Tuesday but did not walk the red carpet. Organizers switched to a black one for the midnight screening of "The Third Mother," the final film in the helmer's "Three Mothers" trilogy.

The RomaCinemaFest concludes Saturday.
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