The Italian Almanac

George Clooney

Rome Film Festival

George Clooney, Colin Farrell, Richard Gere, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep and Paz Vega will be among the stars at the fourth Rome International Film Festival next month, organisers said. ``We`re delighted to have such an array of Hollywood royalty returning to the Tiber,`` said Festival Artistic Director Gian Luigi Rondi.``But Italy`s finest will also be in full view,`` said the veteran critic, who is also chair of Italy`s version of the Oscars, the David di Donatello awards.

Rondi was appointed fest chief last year saying he aimed to spotlight more homegrown talent after two glitzy years in which ex-Rome mayor Walter Veltroni used Tinseltown wattage to mark the Rome event out from the more august Venice. There are three Italian films competing for the top Marc` Aurelio prize: Alessandro Angelini`s boxing/coming of age drama Alza La Testa; Donatella Maiorca`s lesbian love story Viola Di Mare, in which Maria Grazia Cucinotta has a cameo; and Giorgio Diritti`s Nazi atrocity tale L`Uomo Che Verra`.

Italian stars will include Monica Bellucci, Andrea Bocelli, Valeria Solarino, Sergio Castellitto and Michele Placido. Farrell will be presenting the latest drama by Danis `No Man`s Land` Tanovic, Triage, while Streep is bringing to Italy her culinary smash Julia & Julia. The Anerican actress will also be getting a Marc`Aurelio d`Oro prize for career achievement. Other heavy Hollywood hitters will be the Coen Brothers` latest screwball comedy, A Serious Man, and two documentaries by Martin Scorsese, shot at an interval of 20 years, about his friend, the actor, writer and raconteur Steven Prince.