Representatives from several Euro-Mediterranean countries, including France, Iran, Israel, Morocco, Romania and Tunisia attended the launch on Tuesday of the 18th MedFilm Festival at a press conference at the Casa del Cinema.
From October 19-28, the festival will screen a total of 86 features, shorts and documentaries from 28 countries. Of these, 50 are national premieres. Also on the agenda are meetings with actors and directors, such as Leila Hatami, who starred in Iranian Oscar-winner The Separation.
''There are a lot of festivals, but this is the one that takes on the most challenges. A precious contribution, given the current flatline in the distribution market,'' said Casa del Cinema Artistic Director Caterina D'Amico.
''The worst nationalistic stereotypes are reemerging at this time of economic crisis: Italians are untrustworthy, Greeks are lazy, Germans are mean. We need events like this one to combat this drift, because they encourage knowledge of the other through film. This is in line with the EU motto, which is Unity in Diversity,'' said Lucio Battistotti, head of the European Commission delegation in Italy. Slovenia is this year's guest of honor, along with the southern shore of the Mediterranean. ''We are very happy about this, also because diplomatic relations between our two countries turn 20 this year,'' Slovenian Ambassador Iztok Mirosic said in his speech.
''This year's edition is special, because we became of age and also because we almost didn't make it,'' said festival director, Ginella Vocca, alluding to the festival's paltry budget, which this year shrank to 45,000 euros for a year's work. ''The MedFilm Festival gives Rome the opportunity to position itself as the culture capital of the Mediterranean.
Relations with the southern shore are a precious resource for the whole of Europe, if Europe wants to grow. But to do this it must look to the south with respect.'' But what was perhaps the most symbolic moment came just before the press conference began, when the Israeli cultural attache and the director of the Iranian cultural institute shook hands before sitting down: an auspicious start to a festival, whose number one objective is mutual understanding.