Quentin Tarantino Honored by Rome Film Festival

9. Django Unchained

While some might feel that Quentin Tarantino's penchant for running big wrenching topics—the Nazis, American slavery—through the idiosyncratic prism of his own cinephilia represents a trivialization of those issues, my awe for the originality and sheer chutzpah of his dramatic face-offs is only increasing. No one else thinks and makes movies like this, no one else on the commercial landscape so confidently goes his own way and still finds his way home to a large audience.

FILM REVIEW: Django Unchained

UPDATE: The director and his cast, including Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz, attend the premiere of the movie, which pays homage to Italy's spaghetti Westerns.

ROME – Quentin Tarantino stopped in Rome Friday to receive a special lifetime achievement award from the International Rome Film Festival and to present his latest film, Django Unchained, which is screening for the first time outside of North America.

In addition to Tarantino, the movie's stars Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz -- who is from Vienna, just 500 miles north of Rome -- were on hand for the premiere. They were joined by Franco Nero, a Rome resident and the star of the original Django, and Ennio Morricone, the five-time Oscar-winning composer whose music is closely tied with the Spaghetti Western genre. Morricone was scheduled to present Tarantino with the award.

It is significant -- though not a surprise -- that the film’s first stop outside North America is in Italy: the film was inspired by Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Italy-made Spaghetti Western classic Django, while Nero, the hero of the original film, has a cameo role in Tarantino’s production.

Furthermore, Tarantino is connected with Marco Mueller, the former Venice Film Festival artistic director now in his first year at the helm of the Rome festival. Mueller selected Tarantino as head of the main Venice jury in 2010. Also, the film’s Italian distributor, Warner Bros-Italia, was previously led by Paolo Ferrari, now the president of the Rome festival. Plus, the head of Rome’s press office is doubling as the lead press officer for the film.

There had been a great deal of speculation that Django Unchained would screen at the seventh edition of the Rome festival, which ended Nov. 7, but the film was not completed in time for that.

Django Unchained has performed strongly since premiering in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 25. It remains to be seen if it can repeat that success abroad: Tarantino is popular in Europe, but westerns have had uneven receptions in Europe in the past, and the film’s racial and historical references could fail to resonate in Europe.

Django Unchained will go into wide distribution in Italy Jan. 17.