Why Rome Is Growing in Significance on the Film Festival Circuit

By Niola, Gabriele | Screen International, October 16, 2019 | Go to article overview

Why Rome Is Growing in Significance on the Film Festival Circuit


Niola, Gabriele, Screen International


”Once you get rid of the absurd idea of exclusivity, you can stop being at war with festivals close to yours and start collaborating.”

”Once you get rid of the absurd idea of exclusivity, you can stop being at war with festivals close to yours and start collaborating,” says Antonio Monda, artistic director of Rome Film Fest (October 17-27), which takes place during the packed festival season at the end of each year.

Three to four titles of this year’s edition will be shared with BFI London Film Festival, including The Irishman by Martin Scorsese — a Rome habitué. He first came to the festival in 2006 with The Departed and returned last year to receive a lifetime achievement award and participate in various activities around film restoration. This year he will arrive fresh from closing London on October 13.

The decision to not be limited to world premieres has been the cornerstone of Monda’s festival. The 2019 edition will open with Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn. It is a sign, says Monda, of the significance with which the international industry now views Rome: “At first it wasn’t easy for me to be received by major executives. Now it’s the opposite; they come to us.

“There is no competition here, just movies and events,” he continues. “Talents come for a two-hour-long conversation with the audience, not just for a red carpet and a press conference.”

Bill Murray and Viola Davis will receive the festival’s lifetime achievement awards this year. They will both participate in the Close Encounters talks section, which also features Norton, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Ron Howard, Olivier Assayas, Bertrand Tavernier and Bret Easton Ellis.

Monda is introducing two new sections in 2019. One is dedicated to adaptations, the other to famous rivalries. The festival has gathered 45 directors, screenwriters, novelists and artists for the former. Each day, two or three of the guests will discuss the single adaptation of a book to a movie.

In the latter section, famous cinema rivalries — such as Yasujiro Ozu vs Akira Kurosawa or Singing In The Rain vs Day For Night — will be temporarily reignited by contemporary champions of each who will debate their merits in a series of live events. “I will be part of one of these, arguing in favour of Sunset Boulevard against All About Eve, two movies that came out in the same year and competed in the Oscar season,” says Monda. …

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