An ambitious event, with a budget of around six million Euros, Roma- FictionFest is the result of the joint efforts of the Regional Government of Lazio (the Organizer and main financer of the event), and the TV producers of the APT who have decided to bring international attention to drama which, in just a few years, has achieved a position of leadership in the field of Italian audiovisuals and whose “˜capital city’ is Rome, in the Lazio region.
Work has already been in progress on this project for a year, but things really got going last January when Felice Laudadio entered the picture as the artistic director. An old hand at festival organization (Venice, Taormina, Rimini, Viareggio, Telegrolle”¦), by accepting this new assignment Laudadio took up a challenge with many unknown factors, as he explains in this interview.
What are the aims of the RomaFictionFest?
We are planning a Festival model which has never been tried before. It will be a huge showcase for international drama comparing products from all over the world. We expect to have five hundred hours of material which has never been screened before, except in the country of origin, plus retrospectives, specials and fringe sections.
We hope to attract Italian and foreign broadcasters, producers, directors, scriptwriters and industry experts who will be able to view original material and exchange ideas and projects. There is a lot of curiosity about this event and we expect 250-300 businessmen to come to Rome.
Will it be a Festival for industry people?
Yes, but we hope to involve the public as well. This is what will distinguish our Festival from similar events like Fipa in Biarritz, Banff in Canada and the Rai’s Prix Italia. For this reason, we are preparing an event with a wealth of different proposals, including Italian and international venues and stars, an essential feature for attracting audiences.
Let’s start with the competition which is the core of the Festival.
Three popular juries representative of the TV viewing public will evaluate products from all over the world as well as Italian made products which have never been screened before. These will be divided into TV movies, miniseries and serials. The best title in each product typology will receive an award. From this first selection, we will choose the winner of the RomaFiction- Fest Diamond Award which will be assigned by three leading personalities from the world of international drama.
Docudramas will also be entered into the competition and, in this case, the award winners will be chosen by a five man jury made up of journalists, critics and documentary-makers.
Special attention will be paid to Italian products.
That’s right. Original Italian dramas will compete against foreign productions, but there will be a separate section of the Festival for products broadcast by the Rai and Mediaset between September 2006 and May 2007. In order to avoid any conflicts of interest, the Italian dramas will be judged by seven foreign critics who are members of FIPRESCI (Editor’s note: The International Federation of Film Critics).
How much influence will US products have?
US dramas will get an appropriate yet well-balanced amount of recognition with respect to other countries. We should not forget that, in addition to being excellent products, series like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy or House have become very popular, particularly with the younger generations we want to attract to our Festival.
Now tell us how the event will be organized. The epicenter will be the Cinema Adriano with its ten movie theaters which, over the six days of the Festival, will be invaded by a flood of drama products with non-stop programming.
The jury screenings will be held in the mornings whereas in the afternoons, from 4.00 p.m. until midnight, the public will be able to view the material in competition and more. Each theater will specialize in the specific production categories: TV movies, miniseries, long-running series, docudramas, Italian drama products.
The other theaters will be hosting a collection of “˜pilots’, a special focus on British Comedy, a show dedicated to Margarethe von Trotta, the great German director who converted to drama production, and a show in honor of another European director who has yet to be confirmed. There will also be some special screenings.
The festival menu also includes other attractions.
Yes, these will take place in other venues. Between five and eight preview events will be presented “” out of competition – at the Auditorium della Conciliazione. For the moment, the titles that have been confirmed are “˜War and Peace’ from the Rai, a six and a half hour European super-production captained by Lux Vide which will be screened in its entirety, and the mini-series “O’ professore” by Maurizio Zaccaro, starring Sergio Castellitto, produced by Mediaset.
The main retrospective will be held at the Casa del Cinema where audiences are used to arthouse products. A show featuring around 100 hours of Rai serials based on Great Russian literature written between 1958 and 2002 is planned.
There will also be five lifetime achievement awards: who are the winners?
Andrea Camilleri, the father of the famous “˜Commissario Montalbano’, Ettore Bernabei, the former director general of the Rai and a highly esteemed European producer, and Margarethe von Trotta. The other two will probably be an important American producer and a European director. There will be morning meetings with the public when they will talk about themselves and their work at the Auditorium della Conciliazione.
And, finally the conferences.
A number of seminars will be held in the monumental building of the old Hospital of Santo Spirito in which current drama topics will be discussed. Another fringe event of great interest will be the pitching and speed dating organized by Pat Ferns which will give producers and writers with new ideas and projects a chance to talk broadcasters. Evening meetings will be held at the Hotel Columbus between journalists and TV professionals and creatives.