Rome Film Festival Gets a Makeover


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The Rome Auditorium, home of the film festival.Credit Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

The 10th annual Rome Film Festival opens Friday under a new director who hopes to turn a smaller budget into a sharper mandate. He’s eliminated the jury, the competition and all prizes except the audience prize.

“This is going to be a celebration of film, not a festival,” said Antonio Monda, the festival’s multitasking new director who is also an associate professor of film at New York University.

The festival runs through Oct. 24 and will showcase 37 films from 24 countries. It opens with “Truth,” James Vanderbilt’s film about the end of Dan Rather’s career. Other films include “Freeheld,” starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a lesbian couple in New Jersey; and “The End of the Tour,” James Ponsoldt’s movie about David Foster Wallace, starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg.

Mr. Monda, whose New York apartment is a thriving cultural meeting point, wanted to bring some of that spirit to a festival that was started a decade ago by a former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, a cinephile, but has struggled to find its place in the crowded European festival calendar.

“If you go to Venice or Cannes, Nicole Kidman does a press conference, then shows film and then goes to her yacht,” Mr. Monda said. In Rome, the stars will “talk about their experiences,” he said.

This year’s festival includes Wes Anderson in conversation with the novelist Donna Tartt on Italian film; Joel Coen and Frances McDormand on marriage and work; William Friedkin and Dario Argento on influences in their horror films; Riccardo Muti on music in film; and Renzo Piano, who designed Rome’s Auditorium, where much of the festival will be held, on architecture in cinema.

Jude Law and Paolo Sorrentino will also attend. Mr. Law is playing the first American pope in “The Young Pope,” a television series directed by Mr. Sorrentino that is now in production. The festival will end with a special screening of a director’s cut of Mr. Sorrentino’s 2014 Oscar-winning “The Great Beauty,” about Rome’s languorous decline.

The budget for this year’s festival was cut significantly, as Rome faces financial woes, political chaos and a decline in public services. Rome’s current mayor, Ignazio Marino, resigned last week.

The jury and competition may be gone, but the red carpet remains. No tuxedos though. “Cocktail or business attire,” Mr. Monda said. “We’ll still be elegant.”



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