Rome Film Festival: A taste of the awards season and the changing industry

Words: Lavinia Petrucci | Subbing: Marija Tomsone

Rome Film Festival is bringing Hollywood stars to the Italian capital to present films that will have an important spot at the approaching Awards Season. Along with the London Film Festival, the two events shed a light on the importance of female representation.

The 12th edition of the Rome Film Festival opened on October 26th and will end on November 5th . With the longest red carpet in the world and a star-studded line up it has become a key event leading up to the Oscars.

The beginning of the red carpet, where fan queue for hours.                    Source: Lavinia Petrucci

Last year the festival had opened with Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, this year the first premiere was Scott Copper’s Hostiles, an alternative western set in 1892 starring Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi.

Jake Gyllenhaal presented Stronger, a David Gordon Green film about Jeff Bauman. The story focuses on Bauman’s struggles after losing both of his legs in the Boston bombing in 2013; he attended the premiere as well and stressed the importance of portraying his mental health for the two and a half years after the attack.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jeff Bauman. Source: Vanity Fair


Other presented films are:

  • the Oscar winning Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, about the riots that took place there and lasted five days in 1967.


  • The Party by Sally Potter, a black and white comedy starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall.

David Lynch was awarded a career award given by Paolo Sorrentino, who won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Academy Awards with “The Great Beauty”.

Source: Lavinia Petrucci

Within 39 feature films and documentaries, more than 30 countries were represented. The atmosphere of the eternal city helps and the setting is a work of art itself; in fact, the Parco Della Musica was designed by the extraordinary architect Renzo Piano, who also designed the Shard and a part of the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

A lot of students get the chance to go to various screenings.                Source: Lavinia Petrucci

Alice in the City, a parallel film festival which is three years older than the main one, focuses on youth and family films.

Its winner for best film was the Austrian Adrian Goiginger’s The Best of All Worlds,the story about a drug addict who tries to e a good mother to her son. Alessandro, one of the students who attended the premiere, told us: “It was very intense, you feel like you are being transported into something very heavy and distressing, but this is because of the situations being shown. I felt dizzy after it ended.”

The festival saw Dakota Fanning presenting Please Stand By. The Ben Lewin film sees Dakota Fanning playing an autistic girl who runs away from San Francisco to Los Angeles for a script writing contest. This edition of the festival focuses on women, its co-curator Gianluca Giannelli, told ScreenDaily: “At least four out of 10 of our movies are either directed by women, written by women, or about female issues”.

A similar reasoning was behind the BFI London Festival choices. What was put at the center of the attention was including amazing performances from older actresses.

The 61st edition of the British festival took place in Leicester Square and other local cinemas during the first two weeks of October.

The Festival director, Clare Stewart stressed the importance of having female roles both on screen and behind the camera. She told the BBC that “strong women is obviously still a key focus for us” and this can be seen in the numbers. A quarter of the 246 shown over the course of the 12 days are directed by women.

The winner of Best Film in Rome was Janus Metz Pedersen’s Borg McEnroe, which portrays the true story of the tennis rivalry between Björn Borg and John McEnroe. Even if another biographical tennis focused film, Battle of Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell was presented at the London Film Festival it did not win the biggest prize. Andrey Zvyaginstev’s Loveless was named best film instead.

Both of these festivals giving importance to women roles and true stories is reflective of a climate that desperately needs change and a long overdue representation.


Many of the film that were presented at this festival in the past went on to win Oscars, some past winners include Dallas Buyers Club, The Social Network and Moonlight.

In a couple of months we will find out how many of the films presented this year will be the protagonists of the upcoming awards season.



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