Rome film festival honoring Al Pacino

Actor leads way in big-name Hollywood participation

ROME -- Al Pacino will be the guest of honor at this year's Rome International Film Festival, organizers said Friday, making Pacino the first Hollywood star to agree to come since the institution of changes aimed at making it a more Italian-accented event.

In its first two editions, the Rome event attracted scores of top-shelf stars, including Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, Robert DeNiro, Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and Robert Redford.

But a bruising mayoral election campaign earlier this year pitted an ally of the festival's founder, Walter Veltroni, against Gianni Alemanno, who accused Veltroni's office of valuing the presence of Hollywood talent over basic city services.

Alemanno won, and his appointee as president of the Rome festival -- Gian Luigi Rondi -- has so far made several changes that make it more Italy focused, including Italianizing the names of several sidebars and vowing to screen more local productions.

The arrival of Pacino at the Oct. 22-31 festival may update that view. The Oscar-winning actor will accept the Marcus Aurelius career prize on behalf of the Actors Studio, within the new "L'Altro Cinema" section, previously known as the "Extra" sidebar.
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