Rome Film Festival Names Francesco Bruni as Head of Italy-Only Sidebar

Romolo Eucalitto

Perspectives Italy will replace Venice's now-defunct Contracampo Italiano as the country's premiere Italian-only competition for films.

ROME – Organizers of the International Rome Film Festival announced Friday that Italian director and screenwriter Francesco Bruni will head the five-person jury that will pick the winner from the festival’s first Perspectives Italy sidebar.

The festival also officially confirmed that the sidebar will open with the premiere of Carlo!, a documentary about Italian comic actor and director Carlo Verdone. As reported Thursday, the screening of the film will be part of a special evening at the festival dedicated to the 61-year-old Verdone. The film is directed by Gianfranco Giagni and Fabio Ferzetti.

Though reports about the screening of Carlo! appeared in the Italian press on Thursday, this announcement is the first official view into the program at the Rome festival under new artistic director Marco Mueller.

Perspectives Italy is a new sidebar at the seven-year-old Rome festival, replacing the now-cancelled Contracampo Italiano sidebar from the Venice Film Festival as the country’s premiere Italian-only film competition.

Contracampo Italiano was an area of focus for Mueller when he was artistic director in Venice,  but it was cancelled by his successor, Alberto Barbera, who took over at Venice in December, precipitating Mueller's move to Rome.

The selection of Bruni to head the jury reveals some of the shared DNA between the two events: Scialla! (Easy!), Bruni’s directorial debut after a notable career as a screenwriter, won the final edition of Contracampo Italiano sidebar last year before going on to a successful Italian cinematic run and earning Bruni a Best New Director honor at the David di Donatello ceremony, Italy’s highest film honors.

Joining Bruni on the jury are Iranian-born actor and editor Babak Karimi, an Italian resident for more than 40 years; Italian director Anna Negri, a veteran of the Berlin and Sundance film festivals; Chinese actress Zhao Tao, who won a Best Actress Donatello for her work in Andrea Segre’s immigration drama Io sono Li (I Am Li); and Stefano Savona, an Italian documentary producer and director.

The jury will select three prizes from a lineup that includes 14 feature-length films (at least five of them documentaries) and seven short films. Prizes will be given to the Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, and Best Short Film.

The festival also announced the names of the selection committee for Perspectives Italy. It will be composed of noted film studies professor Massimo Galimberti, cinema and television journalist Cecilia Ermini, author and festival programmer Annamaria Licciardello, and film encyclopedia editor Jacopo Mosca.