While Rome, affectionately referred to as la Città Eterna (“the Eternal City”), is often visited due to its rich history, its stunning architecture or renowned cuisine, later this month from the 18th to the 27th of October, visitors can experience the Rome Film Festival. Although it is only in its second year, it has attracted a high number of private sponsors, and the City Council of Rome, in the name of the Mayor and film-buff Walter Veltroni, the Province of Rome and the Lazio Region all strongly support it both in terms of institutional communication and economic investment.
The actual title of the festival in Italian is Festa, which could be translated as feast, not festival, and is apt, since it is more a celebration of the joy of cinema than a regular film festival. Indeed, though the Rome Film Festival’s jury includes a renowned director as its president, last year Ettore Scola, the rest of the 50 jurors are not film professionals but are, in fact, regular moviegoers selected both in Italy and Europe.
Although it enjoys fierce rivalry with the Venice Film Festival, The Rome Film Festival has attracted its own audience and this year will host the world premiere of 11 new films. Among the most exciting is ‘Youth Without Youth’ – Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film in a decade. The film is about a timid Romanian professor who becomes young again after being hit by lightning. The five-time Oscar-winning director wrote the film based on a novella by Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade and has been described as his “third renaissance” after ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Godfather’.
Coppola’s film appears out of competition, along with a number of American films exploring the political climate post 9/11. These include Robert Redford’s ‘Lions for Lambs’ and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition’. ‘Lions for Lambs’ stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep and tells the story of two soldiers wounded behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and the repercussions back home. ‘Rendition’ is about an American woman trying to track down her Egyptian-born husband, who is held at a secret CIA detention centre. It also stars Meryl Streep, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.
The 14 movies in competition for the top Marcus Aurelius award for Best Film include ‘El Pasado’ (The Past), with Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, ‘Li Chun’ (translated as ‘And the Spring Comes’) from China’s Chang Wei Gu, ‘Barcelona (un mapa)’ (translated as ‘Barcelona, a Map’) by Spain’s Ventura Pons and Alain Corneau’s ‘La Deuxieme Souffle’ (translated as ‘Second Wind’), starring Monica Bellucci and Daniel Auteuil. Separate awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, as well as a special jury prize, will also be handed out.
In addition to the more mainstream fare, the festival also boasts dedicated sections for alternative productions and documentaries, children films, first films by new directors and the craft of acting.
Visitors wishing to experience the Rome Film Festival can take advantage of cheap flights to Rome’s two main international airports, Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, more commonly known as “Fiumicino airport”, and Ciampino International Airport. From either airport travellers can catch a train or bus or arrange private transfer to get to their final destination with ease. Hotels in Rome can be booked online in advance, which is recommended, especially due to the popularity of the festival. Last year’s inaugural edition attracted half-a-million visitors and this year is looking to top that.