Connect with Roma the Eternal City

Sign up our newsletter

Get more inspiration, tips and exclusive itineraries in Rome

Festa del cinema Roma

text Virginia Mammoli

September 29, 2023

Festa del Cinema di Roma 2023

The programme and guests of the 18th edition of the capital's kermesse staged from 18 to 29 October

Red. It’s the colour of passion, of love and savagery. But there’s something else that’s inseparably linked to the colour in the collective imagination: the dazzling red carpet trodden by celebrities at the world’s top show business events. While the first red carpet was dreamed up by Aeschylus, its significance far from the modern-day version - the carpet laid by Clytemnestra to trick her husband Agamemnon in revenge for his betrayal with Cassandra and his sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia - it was not until 1922 that it entered the world of film, for the Hollywood premiere of Allen Dwan’s Robin Hood.

A few years later, the Oscars were founded and the red carpet became a feature of all the world’s most important film festivals, including Rome Film Fest, this year taking place from 18 to 29 October, where the iconic red carpet will be at the Auditorium Parco della Musica.

Opening this edition - the 18th - is C’è ancora domani, directed by and starring Paola Cortellesi, along with Valerio Mastandrea.

This year’s official poster features the unforgettable Anna Magnani, a symbol of Roman and Italian film worldwide; lifetime achievement awards go to actress Isabella Rossellini, the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini - her CV includes David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Robert Zemeckis’ Death Becomes Her and, most recently, Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera, which competed at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival - and composer Shigeru Umebayashi, the creator of soundtracks including Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers and Peter Webber’s Hannibal Rising.

Isabella Rossellini (ph. Paola Kudacki -Trunk-Archive)

Among the movies premiering are the documentary Zucchero - Sugar Fornaciari, a portrait of the extraordinary artist in his own words and those of his colleagues and friends such as Bono, Sting, Paul Young, Andrea Bocelli, Francesco Guccini and Francesco De Gregori, with images from his private archive and his triumphant last world tour; Nuovo Olimpo, the new film by Ferzan Özpetek, a love story set in Rome that begins in the late 70s and spans three decades, featuring Luisa Ranieri, Greta Scarano and Jasmine Trinca; the short film Unfitting, Giovanna Mezzogiorno’s first work as director and screenwriter and the first two episodes of the highly expected new season of Mare Fuori.

The red carpet at the Rome festival - or rather, Fest - has been graced by some of the world’s greatest actors and directors, ever since the first edition, back in 2006, opened by a magnificent and sparkling Nicole Kidman in a sequinned gown, who presented the world premiere of Fur, while Leonardo DiCaprio attended with Martin Scorsese - who subsequently became a regular at the event - with The Departed; the same year saw cinema giants Robert De Niro, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford, who were definitely not going to miss out on a festival in the birthplace of Italian film.

Martin Scorsese (2018)

The same was true the following year for Cate Blanchett, star of Elizabeth: The Golden Age, who has returned several times for later editions; Robert Redford and Tom Cruise with Lions for Lambs, Sean Penn with Into the Wild, Jane Fonda and the exquisitely elegant Sophia Loren, honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

These were followed by Al Pacino, who opened the festival in 2008, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart on the release of what would become a generational phenomenon, Twilight, and then, in 2009, George Clooney with Up in the Air, Helen Mirren with The Last Station and Meryl Streep; then Julianne Moore in 2010 with The Kids Are All Right and Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes with Last Night. In 2011 the Festival allowed cinema lovers to meet Richard Gere and Penélope Cruz, while in 2012 it was Sylvester Stallone, in Rome as Jimmy Bobo in Bullet to the Head, who drove audiences crazy. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson came to the Auditorium in 2013 with their romantic drama Her. This was the year of Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth had to be there; in 2014 Kevin Costner presented his Black or White. The most international face of Italian film, Monica Bellucci made an appearance in Rome with Ville-Marie in 2015, the same year as Jude Law, on the eve of global success with The Young Pope.

Nicole Kidman (2006)

2016 saw the return of Meryl Streep, this time with Florence Foster Jenkins, and Tom Hanks, answered by Italy’s Roberto Benigni, as always the biggest luvvy in town. David Lynch was there too in 2017, and Martin Scorsese came in 2018 for an encounter with the audience, and returned the following year with The Irishman, along with Ron Howard with his docufilm Pavarotti and Wes Anderson, who presented a lifetime achievement award to Bill Murray, his friend  and the star of many of his films. The same year brought the legendary actors John Travolta with The Fanatic and Edward Norton with Motherless Brooklyn. 2020 was the year of virtual connections, but there were also real-life guests, including the captivating Isabelle Huppert, who returned in 2022 with Caravaggio’s Shadow, along with Louis Garrel, also at the Festival to present The Innocent, which he directed and starred in; Russel Crowe was at the same edition with Poker Face. And 2021? We haven’t forgotten, it would be impossible, with lifetime achievements for Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino, stars like Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie with Eternals, and Jessica Chastain, in the cast of the opening film The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Big names that confirm Rome as the capital of cinema, today as in the fabulous 1950s.


Connect with Roma the Eternal City