The Italian Almanac

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Nicole Kidman

Italian News - August 26

Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman is to open Rome's eagerly awaited new film festival with her portrayal of iconic US photographer Diane Arbus. In announcing the news on Friday, the festival quoted Oscar winner Kidman as saying she had "a great affinity" with Italy and was "particularly proud to christen this important event." Kidman will unveil the Arbus film, Fur, at the inaugural gala on October 13.

She tracks the period when Arbus broke with her fur-trading family and began to carve out a niche in cultural history by counterpoising celebrity snaps with pictures of cross-dressers, street people and the mentally ill. The film, in which Robert Downey Jr plays the mask-wearing guru who takes her into New York's freakish underbelly, is directed by Steven Shainberg of Secretary fame.

After her suicide in 1971 Arbus became the first American photographer to be exhibited by the Venice Biennale, the art foundation that oversees the Venice festival, the world's oldest film competition which has a wary eye on the Roman newcomer.

As well as Kidman and Bellucci, the festival will play host to a galaxy of stars including Sir Sean Connery, who is to receive Rome's first career achievement award. The festival runs at the new 'City of Music' Auditorium between October 13 and October 21, featuring around 80 movies.

Rome's movie buff mayor, Walter Veltroni, has denied ambitions to challenge Venice, stressing that Rome's focus will be different - wider and less arty - than its venerable cousin.