Rome Film Festival market opening marks halfway point for rejuvenated event
By Eric J. Lyman
ROME, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- At the halfway point of the Rome Film Festival, the event is starting to get down to business.
The eight-year-old event is off to a strong start so far, with sold out shows and events, ticket sales higher than a year ago, and much more of a buzz in the local media. Multiple films in the festival's lineup have earned praise from Italian critics.
Add to that The Business Street -- the Rome festival's market event -- which got underway Wednesday.
The Business Street's name comes from Via Veneto, one of the best known and most beautiful avenues in the Italian capital. The initiative is housed in that part of town rather than the Auditorum Parco della Musica venue on the northern edge of town that's the festival's home base. The Business Street provides a context for buyers and sellers to meet and discuss future film deals. It runs through Nov. 17, when the festival concludes.
The first initiative from The Business Street is aimed at promoting the reach of Italian film.
"We won't survive if we aren't open to new ways of spreading a passion for Italian films," said Silvio Maselli, the newly appointed head of the Italian audiovisual association ANICA.
The Business Street gets underway riding the momentum of a resurgent festival, where several films have garnered more than their share of attention, including "Her," an in-competition selection from Spike Jonze, which tells the story of a man who falls in love with a computer operating system, and "Hard to be a God," the magnum opus from the late Russian maestro Aleksy German. On Wednesday, German became the first cinema figure ever posthumously honored with a career achievement award by an international film festival.
On Wednesday, directors Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (son of multiple Oscar winning director Francis Ford Coppola) participated in a Master Class discussion that was the latest in a series of sold out events.
Industry figures say the festival is attracting positive attention internationally, though opinions remain mixed within Italy.
The remaining days offer more than the market event: Hong Kong director Hark Tsui, who will bring his new "Detective Dee" film to Rome, will receive the festival's Maverick Filmmaker honor, and the new "Hunger Games" film -- along with popular star Jennifer Lawrence -- will make its festival debut.
Also to come: a Master Class from Italian comic and musician Checco Zalone. Zalone has made only three films in his shirt cinema career but two of them -- his 2011 comedy "What a Beautiful Day" and this year's "Sun in Buckets" -- are now the top two grossing Italian films (based on domestic receipts only) of all time.
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