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Organizers of Rome Film Festival hope it will return shine to Italy's cinema tradition

Organizers of Rome Film Festival hope it will return shine to Italy's cinema tradition

It's been a long time since Italian cinema has had the power to attract throngs of moviegoers, but organizers of the inaugural Rome Film Festival hope to give a boost to the flagging industry.
The festival, which opens Oct. 13 with the premiere of American-made "Fur," starring Nicole Kidman, is injecting some glitz into a city whose cinematic star has faded since the heyday of the Cinecitta studios in the 1950s and '60s.
"It is evident that Rome is one of those places that get quickly associated with cinema, by all generations," festival co-director Giorgio Gosetti said in a telephone interview.
Gosetti said hopes are high for giving a kick-start to filmmaking in Italy by reviving the association between the cinema and Rome.
"This festival should also be considered as an opportunity to stamp Italy on the agenda of all those who work in cinema around the world," said Gosetti, who has been director of Italy's film production body Italia Cinema.
Think Italian cinema and what springs to mind is Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" and Anita Ekberg seductively splashing in Rome's Trevi fountain.
Over the years, however, Italian film-making has been on the wane _ despite international successes like Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful," which won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1999.
"Italian cinema has been in a perennial crisis since the 1970s, because it hasn't been able to renovate itself, invest on quality and not on blockbusters," said Adriano Apra, a professor of Italian cinematic history at Rome's Tor Vergata University.
"We're no longer the industry we used to be ... We depend on America and the Italian voice struggles to be heard."
The festival also hopes to encourage more Italians to go to the movies.
The festival is being held mainly at Rome's Auditorium, an exhibition and concert center designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. The aim is to draw in the film-going public, in contrast to the more exclusive Venice festival that closed its 63rd edition in September.
Already 17,000 tickets have been sold for the 16 films in competition and other projections of movies and documentaries on the sidelines.
Italian movies lined up for the festival include the premiere of "La Sconosciuta" ("The Unknown"), the story of a Ukrainian migrant living in Italy by Oscar-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore.
Three of the in-competition movies are also by Italian directors, including "La Strada di Levi" ("Primo Levi's Journey"), which retraces the steps of Primo Levi, Italian writer and Holocaust survivor, on his long voyage home across Eastern Europe after being freed from the Auschwitz death camp.
Rome's cinematic pull grew with the rise of Cinecitta, the studios built by Mussolini in 1937 where such greats as Fellini and Vittorio De Sica produced their best films.
The figures are not comforting for the future of Italian cinema.
A lawmaker testified in parliament earlier this year that three-quarters of Italian films are failing to attract significant audiences.
Italian movies drew just 22 percent of total box office revenue in the country in 2002, the lawmaker said, compared with U.S. movies which represent 60 percent. At the same time, audiences are waning. Just 111.5 million tickets were sold in Italy, a nation of 58 million, in 2002, compared with 140 million in Spain with a smaller population of 44 million.
Cinecitta also welcomed the initiative.
"We need to abandon the negative spiral of the last few years, the one of the reduction of the number of films made, the reduction of the average budget per movie and the financial crisis of Italian cinema," said Lamberto Mancini, the general director of Cinecitta Studios.
"Any initiative that stops this spiral is welcome, any initiative that brings Rome in the spotlight of the cinema world is just perfect."


Updated : 2021-04-18 12:38 GMT+08:00