Rome rallies the public

'Resolution' takes prize as rocky fest closes

The Rome International Film Festival has emerged from its third edition bruised but not beaten.

The 10-day festival, which concluded Friday, was attacked by critics from the start for what was generally seen as an unexpectedly weak lineup.

But proud festival president Gian Luigi Rondi — the 86-year-old former Venice president who came out of near-retirement to take the helm of the Rome event — on Friday proclaimed himself "very satisfied" with the event.

"Certain snobs may want to look at it differently, but the reaction from the public is what matters, and that has been very enthusiastic," Rondi said.

One of Rondi's acts as president was to put the selection of the festival's top film in the hands of the public, with a popular vote weighted in proportion to tickets sold. Nearly two-thirds of viewers cast a vote for the films they saw, and the winner was the made-for-TV "Resolution 819," an exploration of the Balkans conflict from Italy's Giacomo Battiato. It was the first time an Italian co- production won Rome's Marcus Aurelius prize and the €75,000 ($97,000) cash award.

A second jury award went to "Opium War" from Siddiq Barmak. The jury also selected Donatella Finocchiaro as best actress for her work in "Galantuomini," while "With a Warm Heart" star Bohdan Stupka was named best actor.