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More Stars than the Sky

A Day at the Rome Film Festival 2007

Red flags flapping in cold October wind and soldier-like lines of huge red panels lead to the long red carpet that shows celebrities the way into the Auditorium Music Park for the Rome Film Fest 2008.

Rome festival 2007 Film

The ‘big whales’ built by architect Renzo Piano open their mouths for Tom Cruise, Monica Bellucci, Kate Blanchett, Robert, Redford, Gerard Depardieu, Francis Coppola, Robin Williams, Sophia Loren, Jane Fonda and many other movie stars and movie people.

This year’s festival shows 157 films grouped in many different sections, celebrations of masterpieces of dramatic art, close encounters with famous actors, and extra tributes to a long sequence plan of some of the greatest directors of all times: Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sidney Pollack, Francis Ford Coppola, Ingmar Bergman, Alan J. Pakula and many others.

In just two years, Rome has become what was defined “the first movie house in the world with 3 million spectators”, with its 10 days’ premieres and events all over Rome. The 27th of October will see the winners of the best film, best actor and best actress prizes, selected by a special Jury composed of 50 ordinary film-goers of all ages and presided by Danis Tanovic, Oscar 2001. But many more are the official and collateral prizes and special awards that will enrich and make the happening joyful for both participants and spectators.

rome film festival 2007

Last year over 500.000 people took part in the big show, and this year more are expected. In Mayor Veltroni’s proud words: “Rome IS the cinema”: for her strong cultural heritage, for Cinecitta’, home of some major masterpieces in the history of cinema, and last but not least also for the creation of ‘Roma Lazio Film Commission’, aimed at supporting the development of all aspects of cinematographic and audiovisual productions.

In Italian, the Festival is called ‘la festa del cinema” and the choice of the word feast instead of festival well suggests the real atmosphere you get when you decide to take a deep breath and dive into it. Yes, it does look like a huge party where people come and go in floods, drinking, eating, packing the often already sold out ticket areas, crowding the hall, talking, reading the thick program, trying to get the most of the many happenings of each day moving excitedly in all directions.

And – as it often happens in big parties – it is hard to tell who is who while swimming among young and old journalists, known and yet unknown actors, movie lovers, producers, art directors, scriptwriters, movie star-looking common people and common people-looking movie stars. Above all this, cine cameras, digital cameras, steady-cams, phone cameras of all types and sizes: in short any technological equipment that can take a picture, catch a moment of anything going on.

rome festival of cinema

Smell of coffee, fried food, baked cakes and tasty-smelling meals come from both the more elegant restaurants or vip lounges and the quicker and cheaper food areas outside the Auditorium area, made even bigger by the building of two huge movie halls for the occasion.

In the bar where I am taking notes, journalists take a rest, tides of people come and go, eating, calling everybody on cell phones. Some red and orange dressed Buddhist monks eat trendy rice vegetable sushi, and young girls with excessive smiles give you the widest range of merchandise from the many sponsors of the Festival.

Suddenly the loudest music makes everybody rush to the already amazingly crowded barriers of the long red carpet. Here are the young stars of the Italian film Winks, the last digital hurricane worshipped by young girls and children, soul of an amazing business of objects, clothes, books and notebooks which has floods the market. Living symbols of digital actresses, a group of teenagers dressed like extraterrestrials sexy girls, with fluorescent wigs, mini skirts, unreal make-ups, naked bellies and tank tops entertain the yelling public, smiling and weaving in the chilly north wind with a sexy look and attitude that is hardly conceivable in a film for babies and children.

Italian Carabinieri in their protective official role stand along the carpet with bodyguards and security people and watch the show in the show, maybe still dreaming of Monica Bellucci who on Thursday afternoon opened the festival in her striking beauty.

Short after the Winks have left the carpet to reach the premiere of the film, followed by a long tail of children like Hamlin’s Magic Piper, it is Gerard Depardieu’s arrival that catches the attention of public and TV interviewers and photograpers. He walks slowly in his big body on the red carpet signing autographs and releasing interviews before reaching Maestro Bernardo Bertolucci for a meeting about their careers and the masterpiece ‘Novecento’.

I see his face multiplied by hundreds of digital screens of all dimentions lifted in the air, a technological wave rising to catch a glimpse, a smile, a something of the french actor.

festival of cinema rome 2007

In the free time between the three premieres that I have chosen to see today I discover a very interesting exhibition of Maestro Fellini’s drawings and diaries of his night dreams, which show well how his visionary inner word was the substance of his art. Then I stumble into a crowded and technologically well equipped area in which people are given the possibility of experience the emotion of dubbing a movie, guided and helped by professional people. But the tighty scheduled program calls me again in the friendly dark heat of the big movie halls, and I have no time to try as I wish.

Someone said that movies are like life, but without the boring parts. Well, for these ten days instead maybe life is like a big movie for some thousands of people, all together taking part and acting in the shootings of this unique big film production in the always magical and surprising Rome.

Article By Donatella Ruini

Photos by Pasquale Comegna

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