Rome fiction fest unveils lineup

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ROME -- The inaugural RomaFictionFest will kick off next month with a 140-program lineup of telefilms, miniseries and serials that includes 29 world premieres, organizers are set to reveal Tuesday.

The July 2-7 event -- the second major new festival in the Italian capital in as many years -- boasts a program that includes such high-profile productions as the €30 million ($40.5 million) adaptation of "War & Peace," directed by Robert Dornhelm and starring Malcolm McDowell. The 400-minute world premiere will air overnight beginning July 6 and continuing into the early hours of the following day.

The festival will be the world's largest television fiction festival, according to organizers, both in terms of its lineup and participation from the public, which will be allowed to attend the screenings free of charge.

Other high-profile world premieres include "Eine Einzige Tablette" (Side Effects), from German director Adolf Winkelmann, a two-part miniseries on pharmaceuticals that result in birth defects -- a set of programs banned in Germany.

Several Italian productions are also expected to attract attention: "O Professore" from Maurizio Zaccaro, a two-parter about violence in Naples, and Marco Turco's "Rino Gaetano," based on the life of an iconic Italian folk singer who died in 1981, will both screen as world premieres out of competition.

"Rino Gaetano," a 189-minute epic screened in two parts, may be shortened for a theatrical release before it is shown on television, according to festival artistic director Felice Laudadio.

"L'Ultimo Padrino" (The Last Godfather), directed by Marco Risi and starring Michele Placido as Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, will premiere in competition along with Giorgio Capitani's "Il Generale dalla Chiesa," a two-part series about anti-Mafia police.

"Caravaggio" from Angelo Longoni will screen as a European premiere after showing last week in New York, and "L'Affaire Ben Barka," (Ben Barka) a two-part from Jean-Pierre Sinapi about the kidnapping of Moroccan political agitator, will have its world premiere in Rome.

In addition, four world-premiere episodes of "Masters of Science-Fiction" will screen at the event including one, "Jerry Was a Man," that stars McDowell and will screen in competition.

"We're very proud of this lineup, which we think will be greeted very enthusiastically by the public," Laudadio, a former Venice and Taormina chief and a longtime television critic, said in an interview. "I think we have set the standard pretty high for this first festival."

Among other programs, popular U.S. television series "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost" will both have European premieres of recent episodes at the festival.

The festival also will include 17 titles as part of a retrospective of Italian state broadcaster RAI's dramatizations of famous Russian novels and plays produced between 1958 and 2002.

Three separate juries will select winners in the international categories for telefilms, miniseries and serials. Prizes will be handed out for best production, director, actor and actress in each category. There also will be special categories for local Italian productions.
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