October 1, 2008 / 4:36 PM / 10 years ago

Italian movies to dominate Rome film festival

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian love drama starring Monica Bellucci will open this year’s Rome film festival, which will have a distinctly domestic flavor and feature a lighter Hollywood presence, organizers said Wednesday.

The festival’s line-up, which includes 21 Italian films, appears to reflect the change of direction requested by Rome’s new right-wing mayor, Gianni Alemanno, who wants less imported U.S.-star glamour and more focus on domestic productions.

“The festival puts the spotlight on Italian films a lot more than in the past two editions,” said festival coordinator Piera Detassis, presenting the program of the October 22-31 showcase.

“This is not an exclusive preserve for the Americans and we took advantage of a lull in American cinema to focus on some European actors who are the best of their generation,” she said adding the red carpet will be “a little less red than usual.”

Still, international stars like Keira Knightley, Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen are due to attend, while Al Pacino will receive a lifetime achievement award.

“8,” a collection of eight short films inspired by the U.N. Millennium Development Goals on poverty, is also one of the festival’s highlights and should bring to Rome a host of acclaimed directors including Gus Van Sant and Jane Campion.

Six titles by Italian film-makers are in the main 20-title competition, including “L’Uomo che ama” (The Man Who Loves) with Bellucci which will kick off the movie marathon.

Other highlights include two films already presented at the Toronto festival last month, 18th-century romance “The Duchess” with Knightley and cop drama “Pride and Glory” — the only U.S. film in Rome’s competition, starring Farrell and Edward Norton.

French drama “The Sea Wall,” with Isabelle Huppert, is also in the main contest.

The Rome film festival was created in 2006 by Alemanno’s center-left predecessor Walter Veltroni, a movie buff whose campaign to become prime minister was publicly endorsed by George Clooney — but ended in a defeat to Silvio Berlusconi.

In its first two editions, Rome’s showcase became a rival to the venerable Venice festival but its future was cast in doubt when Alemanno, elected in April, said he wanted to promote Italian films rather than Hollywood stars.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Paul Casciato

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