Rome Film Fest Unveils Big Changes Ahead of Ninth Edition

8:58 AM PST 07/07/2014 by Eric J. Lyman
Parco della Musica, home to the Rome Film Festival

Organizers say the lineup will be slimmed down, main prizes awarded based on audience votes and the main sections revamped with a focus on up-and-coming directors.

ROME – The Rome Film Festival on Monday announced sweeping changes ahead of its ninth edition, including a slimmed-down lineup, the decision to base the main competition prizes on an audience vote and a revamp of its main sections to focus on up-and-coming directors.

The changes are the first major development announced for this year’s festival, which will take place Oct. 16- 25. They come on the heels of speculation in the Italian media that budget issues could put the future of the festival in jeopardy. It is not clear if the changes are tied to that speculation.

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Under the artistic direction of former Locarno and Venice head Marco Mueller for the third year, the event is slated to focus more on emerging directors.

The festival's 2014 edition will be “slimmer” than in the past, with 40 full-length films in a new set of competitive sections: the Cinema of Today (Cinema d’Oggi) section will focus on a mix of established and up-and-coming auteurs; the Gala section will focus on “popular but original” films; Genre World (Mondo Genere) will gather films from an array of genres; and Italy Perspective (Prospettive Italia) will include trendsetting Italian films and documentaries. Votes will be cast after each screening, and the winners will be rescreened the day after the festival concludes, Oct. 26.

The festival also will host a special sidebar, called DOC.IT, that focuses on Italian documentaries.

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The audience voting is a partial return to the early days of the festival, when a leading industry figure oversaw a jury of 50 regular moviegoers in a “People’s Jury.” The event switched to a more traditional system, using industry figures on Mueller’s arrival ahead of the 2012 edition, until the change this year.

The focus on emerging filmmakers will come from a special prize, selected by a jury appointed by festival officials, from amid all the first and second directorial efforts screening in the official sections.

The festival also will include the International Film Market, which will run Oct. 17-21.

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As in the past, at the festival will present an unconventional director with the Maverick Director Award, the Marcus Aurelius Acting Awards and the Marcus Aurelius award for lifetime achievement (past honorees include Quentin Tarantino, Meryl Streep, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery and Russian filmmaker Aleksei German – who was honored posthumously at last year’s festival).

The festival has returned to its traditional October perch on Italy’s crowded film festival calendar after two consecutive editions held in November, where it drew controversy for clashing with the more established Turin Film Festival.

Twitter: @EricJLyman

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