Rome Fest Selects Khudojnazarov's 'Waiting for the Sea' as Opening Film

Jeff Nichols - H 2012

On the eve of the announcement of the festival's full lineup, organizers also said that director and screenwriter Jeff Nichols will head the international jury.

ROME -- V Ožidanii Morja (Waiting for the Sea), an existential epic about a sailor’s quest for meaning after the sea near his village disappears in a sandstorm, will be the opening film at the International Rome Film Festival, organizers said Tuesday, adding that director and screenwriter Jeff Nichols will head the festival’s eight person international jury.

The film, from Russian director Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov, will open the festival Nov. 9. It is Khudojnazarov’s first appearance at an Italian festival in nearly 20 years: the 47-year-old previously won Best Film award at the Turin Film Festival for adventure story Bratan in 1991, and the Silver Lion in Venice two years later for drama Kosh ba Kosh.

Festival organizers called V Ožidanii Morja “a majestic fresco, [and] a masterpiece of poetic realism in which man’s will to resist surrendering to the tragedy of life is celebrated.” The film will screen out of competition.

The announcement that V Ožidanii Morja would open the seven-year-old festival and Nichols’ appointment as jury president come on the eve of the announcement of the bulk of the festival’s line, set to take place on Wednesday. As it stands now, the film joins Walter Hill’s crime thriller Bullet to the Head; animated adventure film Rise of the Guardians; Carlo!, a documentary about Italian comic Carlo Verdone; and Centro Histórico (Historic Center), a homage to the Portuguese city of Guimarães in four parts, as the only known parts of a lineup in which Rome’s first-year artistic director Marco Mueller has promised at least 60 world premieres.

The lineup for the autonomous Alice in the City sidebar was announced Monday, headlined by the world premiere of Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.

The rest of the jury Nichols will head will likely be announced Wednesday. The jury will hand out eight different prizes: for Best Film, Best Director, the Jury Prize, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Emerging Actor or Actress, Best Technical Contribution and Best Screenplay.

Nichols is best known as both writer and director of three titles: 2007 thriller Shotgun Stories, 2011’s Take Shelter, and Mud, the story of a fugitive helped by two young boys starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon and set for release next year.

Nichols joins fellow jury heads director Francesco Bruni with the Italy-only Perspective Italy and actor Matthew Modine with the jury that will select the festival’s Best First or Second Film as heads of a jury.

The Rome festival concludes Nov. 17.