This year's International Rome Film Festival will showcase through November 17 the latest in Italian cinema and feature 59 world premieres.
The festival's new artistic director Marco Mueller admits he has had little time to prepare for the seventh annual festival since his appointment in May.
But he has assembled a diverse lineup including 16 Italian feature films and movies from 25 other countries including China, Argentina, France, Germany and the Philippines.
The festival opens Friday with an epic called, Waiting for the Sea, by Russian director Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov.
Among the festival's lineup are several other Russian films including Celestial Wives of Meadow Mari, by Aleksei Fedorchenko and Kira Muratova's Eternal Homecoming.
Italian director Claudio Giovannesi's gritty drama, Ali Ha Gli Occhi Azzurri (Ali Has Blue Eyes), set in the seaside town of Ostia, south of Rome, is one of 15 international films in competition.
It focuses on ethnic conflict among four teenagers who are involved in the local area's criminal milieu.
Il Volto di Un'Altra (The Face of Another) by Neopolitan director Pappi Corsicato and Paolo Franchi's, E La Chiamano Estate (They Call It Summer) are also in this year's competition lineup.
Even before the opening curtain, Mueller who established a world-wide reputation when he took over the Venice Film Festival in 2004, has defended Rome's failure to generate major titles or lure big stars this year.
'We simply got started too late for that,' he said. 'The good news is that Rome still has some of the best and most surprising independent films of the next two seasons'.
Still there are plenty of films that are certain to draw crowds and generate a buzz this year.
Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head, an action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone, will be screened in Rome where Hill will receive with the festival's Maverick Director Award.
The French film Populaire and the Australian family comedy Mental from director P.J. Hogan will also be shown at the festival.
Roman Coppola, son of legendary American director Francis Ford Coppola will screen his film, A Glimpse Inside the World of Charles Swan III, featuring American bad boy Charlie Sheen as a broken-hearted playboy and Gabriel and Alan Polsky's The Motel Life stars dynamic young actors Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff who play two brothers who flee after a fatal accident.
Eventually Mueller hopes to make Rome a major launching pad for global titles and the American awards season.
The 3D epic, Rise of the Guardians, will be launched at the festival and executive producer Guillermo del Toro and Peter Ramsey will be in Rome to collect the new Vanity Fair International Award for Cinematic Excellence.