The festival belongs to women
by Camillo de Marco
26/09/2006 - There will be 20 female directors throughout the various sections (four of which are competition) of the International Rome Film Festival (October 13-21). This is a true record for an event that officially begins today, the day of the presentation of its programme, from a challenge that has stirred up controversy and animated disagreements with the Venice Film Festival.
Mira Nair, Susanne Bier, Francesca Comencini, Catherine Corsini…and the list goes on. The large number of women in the programme was pointed out by Piera De Tassis, head of the more glamorous and spectacular side of a festival that aims to unite popularity with quality, the star system with auteur filmmaking.
"The paradigm of this challenge is the opening film, Fur, the imaginary biography of a woman as extraordinary and shocking as Diane Arbus, directed by independent filmmaker Steven Shainberg and starring a true international icon, Nicole Kidman", said De Tassis.
Also accentuating the feminine side is the festival’s homage to Monica Bellucci, who appears in Paolo Virzì’s N.: Napoleon & Me [trailer] (in the Première section) and stars in Guillaume Nicloux’s French film The Stone Council [trailer]. Her turn in the latter film is, according to De Tassis, "a never before seen Bellucci, with short hair and in a dramatic role. We wanted her precisely because in both films she successfully plays with her own stereotypes”.
Giorgio Gosetti, the festival’s general director, presented the competition titles that will vie for the Silver Marc'Aurelio Award (designed by Bulgari), given out by a jury of 50 spectators presided over by Ettore Scola: 16 films accompanied by three other out-of-competition titles "balanced between an auteur quality and a dialogue with the public", explained Gosetti.
A point of pride for Gosetti and the programmers (among whom, Maria Teresa Cavina) is the presence of the French/Belgium film The Colonel [trailer], directed by Laurent Herbiet and featuring Eric Caravaca, Olivier Gourmet and Cécile de France. Said Gosetti: "This film, made with great production difficulties, pays explicit homage to The Battle of Algiers and will be shown exactly forty years after Gillo Pontecorvo won the Golden Lion in Venice".
There are numerous other European films in competition, especially from France: the new film by Robert Guédiguian, Armenia [trailer]; Georgian director Otar Iosseliani’s Gardens in Autumn [trailer], a French/Italian/Russian co-production; The Legacy [trailer], by another Georgian filmmaker, Temur Babluani, who made the film with his son Gela Babluani; Ambitious by Catherine Corsini, a Truffaut-esque comedy with Karin Viard, Caravaca and Pierre Arditi; Cages [trailer], the first feature film by Belgium’s Oliver Masset-Depasse (see interview and Making Of); and This Is England by Shane Meadows, on the 1980s skinhead scene.
The Italians are represented in competition (see news) by Francesca Comencini with A casa nostra [trailer] (lit. “At Our House”); Davide Ferrario’s documentary Primo Levi’s Journey [trailer]; and Alessandro Angelini’s second film, L'aria salata [trailer] (lit. “The Salty Air”).
"A special event of which we are proud,” said festival programmers, "is Viaggio segreto [trailer] (lit. “Secret Journey”) by Roberto Andò. We will discuss the relationship between film and literature with him and Emir Kusturica". Andò’s film is based loosely on the novel The Reconstructionist by Irish writer Josephine Hart, who also wrote Damage, from which Louis Malle made his highly successful film of the same name.
Featured out of competition will be After the Wedding, the new film by Denmark’s Susanne Bier, who has made yet another powerful film on the subject of family.
Lastly, Offset by Didi Danquart will be presented alongside five other German premieres in the German Days sidebar.
(Translated from Italian)