The inaugural Rome Film Festival took place on October 13–21, 2006 as Festa internazionale di Roma (International Festival in Rome). It was renamed to the International Rome Film Festival in 2008. Even though the festival is quite young, it has already become one of the world’s most important film festivals due to the importance of the hosting city, considerable economic investments, wide media coverage, and famous actors and film directors in attendance.
The Rome Film Festival usually takes place in October or November, right after the Venice Film Festival and shortly before the Torino Film Festival, which used to cause some tension between the organizers of the three film festivals. Interestingly, the former director of the Venice International Film Festival Marco Müller became the artistic director of the Rome Film Festival in 2012. The festival maintains close collaboration with New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival: Tribeca regularly brings films to the Rome Film Fest.
The program of the Rome Film Festival is divided into several main sections. Of course, the International Competition (Gala) gets the most attention from viewers, industry professionals, film critics, and journalists. It features 14 films from different countries. The winner is determined by the jury that consists of viewers. That’s what differs the International Rome Film Festival from other internationally renowned film festivals which rely on professional jury.
The festival’s main award is the People’s Choice Award. The prize is a silver statuette shaped after the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius statue by Michelangelo. The equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius is one of Rome’s most recognizable landmarks. Its replica can be seen on the Capitoline Hill.
The Gala Award is given to the best feature film in the Gala section. The money prize that comes with the award is assigned to the film’s Italian distributor. If the film is not bought by an Italian distributor within six months, the prize money is given to its international distributor. Awards are also assigned to the best films in other competitive categories, to the best actor and to the best actress. Besides, there are special prizes such as the Jury Special Prize and the IMAE (Institute for the Protection of Performing Artists) Acting Award.