Rome has been immortalised on screen in films such as La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday, The Talented Mr. Ripley and of course The Lizzie Maguire Movie, and has always played an important role in the European film industry, but until 2006 it did not have its own film festival.
The Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world, is still Italy's best known film event, but in just 10 years Rome has developed a strong international reputation and has been able to attract big name stars and films. This year's programme included screenings of Lenny Abrahamson's Room, Freeheld starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, and Carol with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, which I was fortunate enough to attended. The festival also featured talks from a number of high profile actors and directors such as Wes Anderson, husband and wife Joel Cohen and Frances McDormand and Jude Law.
My visit to Rome and the festival was brief, but busy. On my first day there, I was a guest at a screening of the first two episodes of the second series of the US TV series Fargo, inspired by the Coen brothers film of the same name.
Ahead of the screening, I had the opportunity to walk the red carpet for the first time in my life, which was quite the experience. I was largely ignored by the photographers and fans, who lined the side of carpet, but there were several Italian actors and actresses at the screening and watching them pose for paparazzi, without being fazed by the dozens of flashes, was a mesmerising form of performance art.
Each season of Fargo is stand alone, so even though I hadn't seen the first season, I wasn't too out of the loop. While the first season was set in 2006, the second season is set in 1979 and also features many new characters and a whole new set of actors including Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson and Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons. The show has a wonderful dark, humorous tone and episode two features a nod to the iconic woodchipper scene which will amuse fans of the original film.
I was back to the festival village early on day two for a screening of the Todd Haynes film, Carol, with Cate Blanchett in the titular role and Rooney Mara playing the young woman she enters into a relationship with. The film looks absolutely beautiful, Haynes has plenty of experience creating period pieces and it is something he excels at. Speaking after the film, Haynes listed Brief Encounter as one the inspirations for the film, and anyone who enjoys melodramas of the 1940s and 50s will love this film. The performances are also a particular highlight, with Mara having already won best actress at the year's Cannes film festival and no doubt further awards will come. It's out here on November 27th.
Before I left Rome, there was just enough time for a trip to the Colosseum and a quick gelato. It's a spectacular city; it's easy to see why directors choose to film there and why the stars readily agree to visit for the film festival.
The trip to Rome was thanks to Mazda, sponsors of the Rome Film Festival. Mazda celebrate passion and innovation, which is why they partner with the Rome Film Festival . The festival aims to offer the experience Mazda strives to give its customers, celebrating cinema with the same sort of zeal the company has for driving.