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ROME — The Rome Film Festival Monday unveiled a lineup with a heavy emphasis on U.S. and Italian productions, a dozen world premieres among 18 competition entries, and the promise of high-wattage star power that artistic director Marco Mueller said would be revealed in good time.
Among the attention grabbing titles: Marc Turtletaub‘s star-studded directorial debut Gods Behaving Badly — the story of Greek gods living in modern-day New York, screening out of competition — Seventh Code (Sebunsu Kodo) from Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Blue Sky Bones (Lanse Gutou) from China’s Jian Cui, both in competition, along with previously announced in-competition selections Her from Spike Jonze, Jean-Marc Vallee‘s Dallas Buyers Club, and Out of the Furnace from Scott Cooper.
The ambitious lineup surpassed expectations set after a shakeup at Rome city hall and bitter infighting between festival stakeholders appeared over the summer to cast the future of the festival in doubt. Some key stakeholders want the event to remain an international festival battling against European heavyweights in Berlin, Cannes, and Venice, and some want it to return to its roots as a crowd-oriented cinema “fest” — the short Italian word for “party.”
In the end, organizers and stakeholders speaking to the more than 700 journalists, photographers, festival officials, and onlookers Monday took pains to straddle both sides, calling it a “fest-festival” on multiple occasions before Mueller — answering a question as to why many of the most high-profile titles in the lineup were unveiled before Monday’s official announcement — allowed that the festival saw itself as a kind of “European Toronto,” referring to the just-completed urban Canadian giant that blends a big market event with popular and niche films blended together in a sprawling lineup.
In fact, several of the non-world premieres in Rome’s lineup were first seen in Toronto, including Dallas Buyers Club and The Green Inferno from actor, producer and director Eli Roth, which is screening out of competition in Rome.
While Mueller’s decision to back away from insisting that Rome’s lineup be dominated by world premieres — in his freshman edition a year ago he earned headlines by boasting Rome would host 60 word premieres (it did) — allowed him and fest president Paolo Ferrari to invite some of the highest profile names in the lineup, many of the world premieres will attract their share of attention as well, including Isabel Coixet‘s Another Me, The Mole Song (Mogura No Uta) from Japan’s Takashi Miike, Iranian director Kiarash Asadizadeh‘s Acrid (Gass), Sorrow and Joy (Sorgo og Gkaede) from Denmark’s Nils Malmros, along with Kurosawa’s Seventh Code.
Mueller said that each of the first seven days of the festival will feature a nighttime screening of a U.S. film with “an important star” on the red carpet, though he declined twice to name any of them — an unusual tact for someone promoting the event he directs. “That is up to the distributors” to announce, he said.
But a scan over the films in the official selection — in- and out-of-competition — reveal plenty of high-profile potential candidates associated with films headed to Rome, including Matthew McConaughey (from Dallas Buyers Club), Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Scarlett Johansson (in Her), Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, and William Dafoe (in Out of the Furnace), Christopher Walken, John Turturro, Sharon Stone, and Alicia Silverstone (in Gods Behaving Badly), Jennifer Lawrence (from the previously announced world festival premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Valeria Golino in Marco Simon Puccioni‘s Like the Wind (Come il Vento), a late addition to the lineup screening out of competition.
All told, the lineup will include 71 full-length films and another 30 shorts or mid-length films from 31 different countries. Officials said more than 1500 feature-length films and more than 1000 shorts from a total of 76 countries were considered for the lineup.
The only part of the lineup not already announced or announced on Monday was the full slate for the CinemaXXI section, though several of the films from the section focusing on trends in filmmaking have been unveiled in recent weeks.
As previously announced, Giovanni Veronesi‘s comedy The Fifth Wheel will open the nine-day festival on Nov. 8.
Here is the complete Rome competition lineup:
The Mole Song by Takashi Miike
Seventh Code by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Her by Spike Jonze
Out of the Furnace by Scott Cooper
Dallas Buyers Club by Jean-Marc Vallee
Another Me by Isabel Coixet
I Am Not Him by Tayfun Pirselimoglu
Sheep’s Clothing by Paulo Morelli
Foreign Bodies by Mirko Locatelli
Acrid by Kiarash Asadizadeh
Blue Sky Bones by Jian Cui
Manto Acuifero by Michael Rowe
Quod Erat Demonstrandum by Andrei Gruzsniczki
Sorrow and Joy by Nils Malmros
Take Five by Guido Lombardi
Tir by Alberto Fasulo
Cut Down Kite by Diego Ayala
The Invisible Life by Vitor Goncalves
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