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The Big Winners At The Rome Film Festival

 JUNOJUNO

Monday, October 29-------Ending what was undoubtedly a highly successful sophomore edition, the Cinema: Rome Filmfest announced its major awards at a gala Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening, in conjunction with a live concert event saluting and playing the music of Italian master composer Ennio Morricone. The Festival delivered on the glamour and the glitz, while also highlighting many worthy films in its various film sections.

The Popular Jury of the official Competition Section, made up of 50 members and presided over by filmmaker Danis Tanovic, awarded the following official Festival awards:

The Marco Aurelio Award For Best Film was awarded to JUNO, the second film effort of American director Jason Reitman (whose debut feature THANK YOU FOR SMOKING was a critical and popular hit). JUNO is the story of a teenage girl who must come to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, who deals with the situation in her own unique way. The young actress Ellen Page is receiving rave reviews on the festival circuit for her sensitive and wise-beyond-her-years portrayal. The excellent ensemble cast also includes Jason Bateman and Allison Janney. The film will be released by Fox Searchlight later this year, who hopes to have another LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE on its hands.


Rade ŠerbedžijaRade ŠerbedžijaThe Marco Aurelio Award for Best Actress was given to Chinese actress Jiang Wenli for he role in LI CHUN / AND THE SPRING COMES, directed by Gu Chang-wei. The actress plays a woman who must come to terms with the suffocating reality of her life and who must find the courage to follow a different path. The Jury noted the actress' "extraordinary ability that allows her to to completely subsume completely herself into the role......she carries the movie at every stage with a true sense of elegance and charm." The Marco Aurelio Award for Best Actor was awarded to the Serbian actor Rade Šerbedžija for his role in the Canadian film FUGITIVE PIECES, directed by Jeremy Podeswa. The film, based on a best-selling novel about a young Jewish boy who is saved from certain death at the hands of the Nazis by a philosophical Greek architect, was the Opening Night film of the Toronto International Film Festival. Šerbedžija plays the Greek elder who adopts the young man and fills him with a love of life and an appreciation of the frailty of the human condition. The Jury acknowledged the actor's contribution to the film, playing a role "in a believable and sensitive fashion that is the center of this wellrounded film."


The Special Jury Award Rome Filmfest was awarded to the Iranian/Japanese co-production HAFEZ, directed by Abolfaz Jalili. The film had its premiere last week at the event, followed by a screening at the Tokyo Film Festival. The film follows the story of a young man named Shamsadin who receives the title of Hafez, bestowed only on those who memorize the Koran. He is sent to teach the Holy Word to the overseas-raised daughter of a religious leader, with whom he falls in love. This is an intriguing look into the rigours of the Muslim world and how it fares when it collides with Western notions and belief systems. The jury noted the film's "mythical core and its innovative use of storytelling.....in revealing the duality of love for God and for the community."

INTO THE WILDINTO THE WILDThe FASTWEB Prize for Best Film in the Festival's Premiere section was awarded to INTO THE WILD, director Sean Penn's moving adaptation of writer Jon Krakauer's non-fiction story of a young man's spiritual quest in the wilderness of the Alaska snow country. The film tells the true-life story of Christopher McCandless, who after graduating as a top student and athlete from Emory University in 1992, abandons his possessions, send his entire savings to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to find a more "real" lifestyle in the wilderness. Along the way, the young man encounters a number of outstanding characters (played with great gusto by Hal Holbrook, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Keener), who influence his worldview and shape his life. The film has been receiving outstanding reviews and looks certain to be an Oscar contender for director Sean Penn and its lead actor Emile Hirsch.

Sandy Mandelberger, Rome FF Dailies Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Online Dailies of CINEMA: Rome Film Fest: October 18-27, 2007

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