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At least three American awards hopefuls will have the chance to compete for some European festival hardware, as Spike Jonze's "Her," Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace" and Jean-Marc Vallee's "Dallas Buyers Club" are among the first four Competition selections announced for November's Rome Film Festival. They'll be joined by the world premiere of Spanish director Isabel Coixet's "Another Me," along with several others yet to be announced.
"Dallas Buyers Club," which is angling for Best Actor consideration for Matthew McConaughey's performance as an HIV sufferer taking on the medical system, already had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. "Her," in which Joaquin Phoenix stars as a writer who falls in love with a computer operating system, will be unveiled at the New York Film Festival. "Out of the Furnace," meanwhile, will screen at the fest shortly after it opens theatrically in Norway (six weeks before its US release). The film, Cooper's first since his Oscar-winning debut "Crazy Heart," stars Christian Bale as a vigilante searching for his missing brother.
Coixet's film -- formerly dubbed "Panda Eyes" -- features young "Game of Thrones" star Sophie Turner as a teen who believes she's being haunted by her own double. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Rhys Ifans and Geraldine Chaplin co-star. Coixet's a name whose previous films have competed at Berlin ("Elegy") and Cannes ("Map of the Sounds of Tokyo"), so this is a reasonably big coup for the new-ish Italian fest -- which, incidentally, boasts former Venice head Marco Mueller as its co-director.
With the festival still being relatively new, and their programming still growing, their awards don't, at this point, carry a huge amount of weight -- though, of course, any win is gratefully received by any film on the Oscar campaign circuit. The list of past Best Film winners from Rome is a diverse one. Many of the picks (including Larry Clark's "Marfa Girl" last year) have yet to see the light of day in the US, though "Juno" took the prize in 2007. US filmmaker James Gray, whose excellent "The Immigrant" is still awaiting release, will head up this year's Competition jury. Meanwhile, Clark himself is heading up the jury for a sidebar section, CinemaXXI, devoted to "new trends in filmmaking."
The Rome fest is teasing out its big announcements somewhat. We learned a few days ago that "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" -- now there's a film you'd never have seen in Mueller's time at Venice -- will play out of competition at the festival, three days after its world premiere in London. Meanwhile, Rome has nabbed another big-name world premiere with Jonathan Demme's new narrative feature "Fear of Falling" -- an Ibsen adaptation starring Wallace Shawn.
This year's Rome Film Festival runs from November 7 to 18.
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