Close Encounters

The 11th Rome Film Fest dedicates great space to the encounters with directors, actors, and important cultural figures.




The Academy Award®-winning actor Tom Hanks, universally agreed to be one of the greatest actors in contemporary film, this year will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th Rome Film Fest, which is also hosting a wide-ranging retrospective of his most important films (fifteen titles, including Music Graffiti and Larry Crowne, both of which he directed). On the occasion of the award ceremony, Hanks will attend an onstage conversation with scenes from his favorite films, along with a clip from a film he is particularly fond of.

It may well be that the fact Hanks has Abraham Lincoln’s blood running through his veins has helped him think big: with an ancestor of that ilk, anything seems possible, even becoming America’s best-loved actor. The winner of two Academy Awards® in a row, one for his role as the intense Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia and the other for the naïve Forrest Gump in the film of the same name, Tom Hanks broke into film in 1980, in He Knows You’re Alone, but he really began attracting attention with Splash in 1984 and Big in 1988, for which he nabbed an Oscar® nomination. Styled a modern-day James Stewart thanks to his gentlemanly manner as the guy next door, eclectic and versatile while never once going too far, in the nearly fifty films he has starred in (from Saving Private Ryan and Cast Away to Catch Me If You Can and Bridge of Spies), Hanks has succeeded in perfectly embodying the clean and genuine side of Hollywood. With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Rome.


Italian television host, musician, film director, actor, screenwriter, DJ, and talent scout, Renzo Arbore is one of the most interesting and innovative figures on the Italian cultural scene. Born in Foggia in 1937, at a young age he acted on his love of music, jazz in particular, by playing in the group Parker’s Boys. After getting a law degree in Naples, in the mid-1960s he moved to Rome and started working in radio as a programmer for popular music at the RAI. His 1970 radio program Alto gradimento revolutionized the language of radio with its use of improvisation and its intelligent yet zany twist on the medium, launching a real cultural trend. In television, as well, Arbore shook up all the rules and conventions then observed, and his programs L’altra domenica (1975), Quelli della notte (1985), and Indietro tutta (1987) totally overhauled the style of television up to that time. Cinema was also in for a makeover with Arbore, who directed his debut film in 1980, Il pap’occhio, enlisting personalities from his television shows such as Roberto Benigni, Diego Abatantuono and Luciano De Crescenzo, and even a cameo appearance of Martin Scorsese. In 1983 he made his second film, “FF.SS.” – Cioè: “…che mi hai portato a fare sopra a Posillipo se non mi vuoi più bene”. In 1991, with the aim of winning traditional Neapolitan songs a larger audience, Arbore founded his Orchestra Italiana, with which he still tours around the world.


Bernardo Bertolucci is one of the leading figures in contemporary film. Bertolucci was born in 1941 in Parma, and grew up surrounded by film and poetry – his father, the poet Attilio Bertolucci, had founded the city’s film club, where he liked to screen films by Murnau and Ophuls. At a young age he met Pier Paolo Pasolini and became his assistant. He worked with him on Accattone in 1961 and made his own directing debut a year later, with The Grim Reaper, based on a story by Pasolini himself. Bertolucci, who closely followed developments in the international avant-gardes and had a personal preference for French film (especially Godard), started to define his own ideas about filmmaking, maintaining a personal commitment to style and expressive power of a film. His masterpieces include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, and 1900. The first and only Italian to win an Academy Award® for Best Director, for The Last Emperor – a film that won nine Oscars out of nine nominations – he proved on several occasions that he could reconcile auteur filmmaking and big-budget productions. Awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at Venice in 2007 and an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2011, Bertolucci continues to treat audiences to genuine cinema with no superstructures, in which frustrated, unconventional, and contradictory characters still try to find their place in the world.


On more than one occasion, Lorenzo Jovanotti’s music has made its way to the big screen, from “Muoviti, muoviti” in Monicelli’s comedy Parenti serpenti to “Ragazzo fortunato” in Nanni Moretti’s April and “Una tribù che balla” in Analyze That by Harold Ramis. Just last year we heard his voice in the background during a sequence of Fathers and Daughters by Gabriele Muccino, while 2016 marked a fresh collaboration between the singer-songwriter and the director – thanks to whom, years before, Jovanotti had earned a David di Donatello for Best Original Song for his “Baciami ancora” – on Muccino’s new film Summertime. Considered one of the most original and innovative artists on the Italian pop music scene, Jovanotti will meet the audiences for a onstage conversation titled “Images, Music and Words”, and will talk for the first time about his own personal journey through cinema, commenting on scenes from films that have influenced his life and artistic career. Indeed, as can be seen in the innovative videos that accompany his songs and in the short films and very special visual effects at his live concerts, it’s very clear that his relationship with film is a very profound one.

PAOLO CONTE | In collaboration with Fondazione Musica per Roma

“One of the most significant poetic voices of our time” the writer Vincenzo Cerami called him. Paolo Conte, a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, writer, lawyer, and painter, started painting and writing music and lyrics at a very young age. Born and raised in Asti in a family of notaries, he earned a law degree and went to work at his father’s law firm. At the same time, thanks to his love of music and jazz in particular, he learned to play the trombone and the vibraphone. In 1974, Conte decided to give up his law career and become an artist. He sings of provincial life and the rough-and-tumble tales of ordinary people, but also the exotic lands summoned up by jazz, the rumba or the tango (“Boogie”, “Macaco”, “Sudamerica”). His lyrics allude to times past (“Bartali”, “La topolino amaranto”), seizing on an era or a situation and crystallizing it in a timeless dimension. A prolific composer of film scores, Conte wrote the music for You Disturb Me, the first film directed by Roberto Benigni; two films by Lina Wertmüller, A Joke of Destiny and Softly, Softly; and the animated film How the Toys Saved Christmas directed by Enzo D’Alò. His life is lived to the beat of jazz and the sound of swing, to the tune of sophisticated melodies with an international appeal, to the words of his poetic, ironical lyrics, eccentric and irresistible. The conversation will be introduced by Ernesto Assante, Gino Castaldo and Mario Sesti.


An American novelist, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, after getting a degree in communication arts at Fordham University, Don DeLillo started working in advertising and became interested in jazz music and writing. He published his first novel, Americana, in 1971, following it up with End Zone, Great Jones Street, Ratner’s Star, and later what would be universally known as his masterpiece, Underworld. A central figure in post-modern American literature, DeLillo is a brilliant, acute observer of the transformations American society has undergone, its excesses and distortions. A sophisticated, sensitive writer, he has taken on a vast array of issues over the years, such as the Cold War, jazz, the consumer society, the ubiquity of television, the disintegration of the modern family, and terrorism. In 2012 David Cronenberg pulled off a feat deemed impossible and turned DeLillo’s novel Cosmopolis into a film: a dark, surreal satire about the dawning new millennium, starring Robert Pattison. DeLillo rarely agrees to interviews or media visibility in general (and an appointment with him is a rare privilege). When it comes to his prose, DeLillo is a virtuoso. His works run the gamut from irony to epic and can be read on many different levels. During the talk he’ll be musing about the ties between film and literature and his passion for Michelangelo Antonioni.


George, born in Devon (U.K.) in 1942, and Gilbert, born in San Martino in Badia, in the Italian Dolomites, in 1943, met while studying sculpture at the St. Martin’s School of Art in London. One day, while taking pictures of themselves next to various statues, they had a revelation: do without the artworks and become the subjects of the photos themselves, as living statues, and have a bigger impact than any other product. When G&G started out, the art world was divided into pop art, minimalism and conceptualism. The direction this duo took was completely different and extremely personal: interaction with the world was more important than the art object itself. The aim being, as they called it, Art for All, with images and media rooted in contemporary life, able to tackle political, religious and even erotic themes in a straightforward, unconventional way. For their work, Gilbert & George received the Tate Gallery Turner Prize in 1986, and in 2005 they represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale. Gilbert & George will meet the audience at the Rome Film Fest and on this occasion they will present Shaolin Martial Arts by Chang Cheh and the documentary The World of Gilbert&George restaured by the CSC/Cineteca Nazionale.


An architectural theoretician and an artist in the broadest sense of the term, Daniel Libeskind is one of the leading exponents of deconstructivist architecture. Born in Poland of Jewish descent, after moving to Israel for several years to study music, he received a degree in architecture from the Cooper Union in New York and continued his training in the U.K. He then began teaching in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. His most important projects include the Jewish Museum in Berlin (1998), the polychrome Grand Canal Square in Dublin and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, a futuristic construction composed of five intersecting structures added on to the original 19th-century museum. In 2003 he was awarded the commission for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York. In Libeskind’s view, the secret of creativity is an open heart and mind, receptive to ideas and influences inherent in even the slightest external stimuli. With their often square volumes, broken lines and sharp angles, his projects spring from his profound, heartfelt awareness of reality and create tensions between different styles, periods and architectural elements that are particularly striking and out of the ordinary. Libeskind will be discussing the relationship between film and architecture, as well as his love for Paolo Sorrentino’s films. With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Rome.


Playwright, actor, screenwriter, author, essayist, film director and producer, David Mamet is one of the most versatile talents of our day. A multi-faceted artist and a prolific writer, he started out in theater (and is one of the founders of the Atlantic Theater Company), where he made his playwriting debut in 1974 with Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Over time, Mamet established a reputation as one of America’s greatest contemporary playwrights, for plays such as American Buffalo (1976), Glengarry Glen Ross (winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, and later a film directed by James Foley) and Oleanna (1992). In the early 1980s Mamet tried his hand at film, writing the scripts for The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Intouchables, The Verdict and Wag the Dog, to name a just a few. His directing credits include House of Games, Homicide, Oleanna, Hollywood, Vermont and Redbelt. Attracted to all possible shades of mystery and the eternal conflict between lies and truth, a leitmotif in nearly all of his works, Mamet is known for having his characters speak with all the immediacy of street talk, to the point that this characteristic of his scripts has become a hallmark of his entire oeuvre. With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

Wednesday October 19th, at 3 pm, Luca Barbareschi, director of the Eliseo Theatre, will host David Mamet for a meeting with the students of the Università La Sapienza and the theatre audience. The Eliseo opened its season with two works by this great playwright: Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, directed respectively by Sergio Rubini and Marco D’Amore. Andrea Minuz will moderate the conversation.


Born in Manhattan to a Danish father and American mother, Viggo Mortensen grew up in Venezuela, Argentina, Denmark, and the United States. He landed his first film role in 1985, in Witness by Peter Weir. After that his career took off: he appeared in Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner in 1991, alongside Al Pacino two years later in Carlito’s Way,  and teamed up with Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide by Tony Scott in 1995. True fame, however, would come with the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. In the first decade of the new millennium, he partnered with David Cronenberg to treat audiences to other memorable characters: the diner owner with a double identity in A History of Violence, the unflappable driver Nikolai Luzhin in Eastern Promises (for which he was an Oscar® nominee for Best Actor in 2008), and the founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, in A Dangerous Method. In 2009 he starred in another hit, The Road, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Alongside his film career, Mortensen cultivated his interests in all the arts. A painter, poet, musician, and photographer, he is impressively multilingual, speaking fluent English, Danish, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, and French, and his Italian isn’t bad at all. The Rome Film Fest audience will see him onstage on the occasion of the screening of Captain Fantastic, a film by Matt Ross in which he plays a man who tries to reintegrate into society after choosing to live in isolation with his family for over a decade.


One of the most interesting and controversial figures on the global film scene, the New York-born director has made the depiction of power and his often scathing criticism of American society the raison d’etre of his filmmaking, choosing “inconvenient” stories for his films that in most cases are highly critical of American politics. A screenwriter and producer as well as director, who occasionally has cameos in his own films, the three-time Oscar®-winner (for Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July as well as the screenplay for Midnight Express) will be in Rome for one of the fest’s Close Encounters. During his onstage conversation, the New York filmmaker – who directed unforgettable films like Wall Street, JFK, Natural Born Killers, Any Given Sunday, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – will be discussing American politics on the eve of the presidential elections. He will also be launching his latest film, Snowden, about the National Security Agency contractor who went public with top-secret information about illegal surveillance operations in the United States, which shook the international intelligence community to its foundations and divided public opinion.


Her early dream was to be a soprano. Fortunately, when she went off to college, she signed up for an acting class. Now she has three Oscar® statuettes on the mantelpiece (for Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady) and she has rightly earned her sceptre as the Doyenne of Cinema. Committed to her art, elegant and ironic as only she can be, Streep has fifty-odd films to her credit in a forty-year-long career. She has played every kind of character, from the shy, delicate Linda in The Deer Hunter by Michael Cimino, to the tough-minded Joanna Kramer starring alongside Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer; then there’s her enigmatic mother figure wracked with remorse in the touching Sophie’s Choice and the housewife Francesca, in love with Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County. While in the early years of her career Streep snagged mostly dramatic roles, since the 1980s her comic vein has also emerged, with her memorable turns in hit comedies such as Death Becomes You, The Devil Wears Prada, and the musical Mamma Mia!. At the onstage conversation in Rome, Streep will talk about the great Italian actresses who influenced her, above all Silvana Mangano and Anna Magnani. With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

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