ROME The Rome Film Festival opened its second edition Thursday, harkening back to the Eternal City's 1960s cinematic heyday.
Featuring premieres such as Francis Ford Coppola's first movie in a decade, "Youth Without Youth," the Rome event is gaining status in a country best known for the 75-year-old Venice Film Festival.
Among those expected in Rome were Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, Sophia Loren, Robert Redford, Gael Garcia Bernal, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Terrence Malick, as well as Coppola's daughter, Sofia, a director in her own right.
The festival, running through Oct 27, opened with the French noir "Le Deuxieme Souffle" ("Second Wind") by Alain Courneau, starring Daniel Auteuil and a surprisingly blonde Monica Bellucci. A remake of a 1966 film by Jean-Pierre Melville, the movie tells the story of a 1960s gangster who escapes from prison to flee with the woman he loves.
There are 14 films in competition, along with Hector Babenco's "El Pasado" ("The Past") and "Reservation Road," starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and Mira Sorvino.
"There are many stories of single individuals lost in critical moments," festival co-director Giorgio Gosetti said in a telephone interview. "It is a cinematographic selection which focuses on the loss of identities and values."
Presented out of competition are Redford's "Lions for Lambs," starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep in a drama touched off by U.S. military action in Afghanistan; and Gavin Hood's "Rendition," the story of an American woman (Reese Witherspoon) whose Egyptian-born husband is detained and tortured by the U.S. government.
Organizers believe the event can boost the city's cinematic pull, which grew with the rise of Cinecitta, the studios built by Mussolini in 1937 where such greats as Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica produced their best films. Over the years, however, Italian filmmaking has been on the wane, despite international successes like Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning "Life is Beautiful."