Magazine article Screen International

Antonio Monda on His First Year as Rome Artistic Director

Magazine article Screen International

Antonio Monda on His First Year as Rome Artistic Director

Article excerpt

Antonio Monda is easing his way through his first year as Rome Film Festival's artistic director. While it's not been an easy start, taking over after a tempestuous few years, the New York based NYU film professor is certain things are looking up. Screen caught up with him halfway through this year's festival.

Festival goers are talking about an impressive programming line-up and overall buzz around this year's festival. How do you think it is going?

I am told this festival has had the best press since it started ten years ago. Screenings are selling out, particularly the Close Encounter talks. There's people lining up on the red carpet, hanging out at the cafes and listening to the live music. There's a positive energy.

The programming has been criticised in recent years for not being strong enough. What was your main goal for this year's line-up?

I came on board six months ago so I didn't have much time. I provided each of the programmer's with the briefest of guidelines: discontinuity with the past, and variety and quality. We had to be prepared to say a lot of no's, which wasn't easy. Next, we focused on films of different genres and nationalities. Lastly, I wanted to give importance to the Close Encounter talks. I wanted to have talent come on stage and talk about why they love cinema - whether it's the great conductor Riccardo Mutti discussing music and cinema, Wes Anderson and Donna Tartt talking about their favourite Italian films or Paolo Sorrentino revealing the films that have inspired his work.

The festival's budget has been cut this year. How has that affected your goals and ability to attract star talent?

Less money is the expression that I keep hearing, but I think it is an issue everywhere in the world right now. Of course money is important and I am not so naive that if I had more, I could have more talent on the red carpet, more guests for the Close Encounter talks. But it is about our ideas. I trust this.

In addition to programming changes, you have reformed the overall ideals of the festival, beginning with calling it a 'festa' or celebration. What was your thinking behind this?

This is how the festival was conceived ten years ago. While it may seem like semantic trickery, the fact remains that the Rome Film Festival is a true celebration of cinema. We have added new cinemas around the city. There is a bigger focus on retrospectives, from director Antonio Pietrangeli to Pablo Larrain to Pixar. …

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