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From India to Rome

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On the penultimate day of IFFI 2018,  vice president and director board member of Fondazione Cinema per Roma Foundation which conducts the Rome Film Festival, Laura Delli Colli; chief general manager, Fondazione Cinema per Roma Foundation, Francesca Via and director, writer and producer, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra came together to talk about IFFI’s association with other film festivals around the world.

This year, the festival which was held in October witnessed the European premiere of Mehra’s film My Dear Prime Minister. And Delli Colli stated that the film was much appreciated by critics and Italian audience. “I think Indian movies have something special and around the world there is still more to be discovered of Indian movies as not many come to our cinemas. I hope that next year we can have something more from India,” she said.

Via meanwhile threw light on the organising of the Rome Film Festival. “The festival is growing every year. For us young people are very important and we have a special young section,” she said.

Speaking about his experience at the festival this year, Mehra stated that he felt both good and jealous. “It was good because I felt at home. Although we have a bigger population in India, the crowd at their festival was much bigger than here. In fact even with a delegate pass I had to wait for one hour to get into the theatre,” he said.

At the same time, he was jealous of how well organised the festival was (“not that we are not”) and the ardent passion there for cinema. His visit to Rome this year with his film was his first ever visit. And in fact Mehra stated that while he had had tons of opportunities to go there before he didn’t want to go there without his film. “I felt that I could only go there and show my respect to some of the masters of cinema who hail from Italy with my humble presentation. Obviously I can never match up to their brilliance and creativity,” he said. Thus, when he got the letter from the director, he says he was very happy. “I had to be there on October 21 and I began packing on the 10th itself, and my family was going mad. I had never felt like this about any other festival. I think it is because of how the people there embrace you,” he said.

The trio also remembered late Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci who recently passed away. Mehra stated that Bertolucci was one of the masters from whom he learnt to make films. “I began making films because of them. I never went to film school nor had a teacher. I never assisted anyone on the set. Prior to films, I was in advertising and had never even heard of world cinema. I only discovered Bertolucci and others when I was in London and they became by default my masters, teaching me from wherever they were,” he said. He further added that masters can never die as their work always live on.

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