Rome Film Fest Gets Underway With Homegrown Comedy, Tributes to the City

3:06 PM PST 11/08/2013 by Eric J. Lyman
From Giovanni Veronesi's "The Fifth Wheel"

The eight-year-old event is seeking to put recent political and budget-related problems behind it under second-year artistic director Marco Mueller.

ROME -- The Rome Film Festival got started Friday with a well-received world premiere of Giovanni Veronesi's new comedy The Fifth Wheel (L'ultima ruota del carro) and reminders of Rome's important spot in the world's cinema pantheon.

The eight-year-old event, under the artistic direction of former Locarno and Venice artistic director Marco Mueller, gets underway with a line-up aiming to show the festival has its political and economic problems behind it.

Saturday, the first full-schedule day at the festival, will feature two of its anticipated high points, the in-competition Italian premiere of San Sebastian winner Dallas Buyers Club from Jean-Marc Vallee and a Master Class from two-time Oscar nominated actor John Hurt.

STORY: Rome Film Fest at Crossroads as 8th Edition Opens Friday  

Early indications are that ticket sales are ahead of last year's pace, and they'll likely gain steam with red carpet appearances from Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Lawrence, along with directors Wes Anderson, Jonathan Demme, and Spike Jonze scheduled.

Friday night belonged to Veronesi's comedy about an unlikely everyman-type hero, plus matron of honor Sabrina Ferilli, a popular Italian actress, and introductions of the festival's various star-studded juries.

Ferilli, who had a role in Paolo Sorrentino's critically acclaimed The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), Italy's official candidate for the foreign language Oscar, praised the important films made in Rome this year.

"Cinema loves Rome," Ferilli said, mentioning both Sorrentino's homage to the Italian capital and Sacro GRA, Gianfranco Rosi's documentary set in Rome that won Venice's Golden Lion two months ago.

Film director James Gray, a Cannes regular who heads Rome's international jury this year, followed suit.

"When I was a kid I used to skip school to watch films, and Italian films were some of my favorites," Gray said at the opening ceremony. "It's a real honor for me to head this jury here in Rome."

The festival runs through Nov. 17. 

Ornella Sgroi contributed to this report.

Twitter: @EricJLyman

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