Rome fest dressed up in second outing

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ROME -- The second RomaCinemaFest gets under way Thursday with all the red carpet shindigs and champagne toasts befitting a rookie festival playing in the big leagues. The event includes the highly anticipated European premiere of "Elizabeth: The Golden Age."

A star-studded red carpet will be one of the signatures of the festival, which runs through Oct. 27. And the glitter will start immediately, with "Elizabeth" star Cate Blanchett and director Shekhar Kapur as well as operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli -- who will sing at the opening night gala -- among the first day's biggest names.

It will be the second high-profile event in Italy in five weeks for Blanchett, who won best actress honors at the Venice Film festival for her portrayal of folk icon Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There."

Also on the agenda for Thursday is "Le Deuxieme Souffle" (Second Wind), a French gangster film from Alain Corneau. The main attraction for the weekend will be the world premiere of Francis Ford Coppola's first film in a decade, "Youth Without Youth," which screens Saturday.

Other big-name stars expected to travel to Rome for the festival include Tom Cruise, Sophia Loren, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda and Gerard Depardieu.

The Rome festival bills itself as an event for the masses rather than for industry insiders, and ticket sales are bearing that out. As the festival approaches, organizers said ticket sales are on pace to outdistance last year's 480,000.

The best film honor will be selected by a jury of 50 regular moviegoers, but instead of an entirely Italian jury as in 2006 the group will be made up of 30 Italians and 20 members from 11 other European countries.
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