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ROME (Reuters Life!) - The Rome Film Festival will fete the 50th anniversary of Fellini's classic "La Dolce Vita" with the first screening of a restored copy and a retrospective of the glory days when Rome was called Hollywood on the Tiber.
The fifth edition of the festival, which has striven to carve a distinct identity for itself in the long shadow of its more famous cousin in Venice, will be held Oct 28-Nov 5.
It will open with "Last Night," a drama of sexual and emotional intrigue starring Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes, which will provide a dose of modern-day star power to the competition lineup.
The 178-minute black and white La Dolce Vita, which premiered in 1960, has become an icon for film buffs. It made a living god of director Federico Fellini, who died in 1993.
Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and Anouk Aimee, it was considered scandalous at the time but is quite tame by the standards of today, where more flesh can be seen in a television deodorant advert.
In seven loosely connected episodes, Mastroianni, playing reporter Marcello, covers the escapades of residual nobility, the nouveau riche, starlets and hangers-on of the cafe set on Rome's Via Veneto as he struggles to find meaning in his own life.
Marcello chronicles events with his inseparable sidekick, a photographer whose last name is Paparazzo: the name now in dictionaries in nearly every language meaning aggressive street photographers.
The festival will also include 24 Italian films made from 1952 to 1980 and a series of exhibitions throughout Rome on the way the city was when the jet set flocked to the capital to see and be seen.
One exhibition is called "The world in the times of La Dolce Vita" and another is "Stars and Celebrities in the Italian Fifties.."
As well as Last Night, directed and written by Massy Tadjedin, the main competition includes "Rabbit Hole," directed by John Cameron Mitchell and starring Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest and Aaron Eckhart.
Last Night is a tale of sexual attraction, betrayal and jealousy in which a couple's fidelity is tested during a 36-hour period when they are apart and with other people.
Rabbit Hole tells the tale of a couple who grapple with the sudden loss of their child as their already troubled marriage is further tested by the bereavement.
Other films in competition include "Oranges and Sunshine" by Jim Loach, son of director Ken Loach.
The film is about the true story of a social worker Margaret Humphreys, who in the 1980s uncovered the scandal of poor British children in the care of social services being told their parents were dead and relocated to Commonwealth countries.
The Focus Section of the Rome festival will spotlight Japanese cinema and culture and will hold a special event dedicated to filmmaker Akira Kurosawa on the centenary of his birth.
The festival will screen the restored version of Kurosawa's 1950 masterpiece, "Rashomon."
Editing by Steve Addison