ANSA recently reported that Rome’s new film festival would honour Sir Sean Connery, ‘an actor of extraordinary quality who has worked with the world’s greatest directors and written some of the most unforgettable moments in movie history.’ The full announcement:
Rome’s new film festival on Tuesday announced it would honour Scottish screen legend Sean Connery during its inaugural edition in October.
In announcing the news, Rome’s cinephile mayor, Walter Veltroni, called Connery “an actor of extraordinary quality who has worked with the world’s greatest directors and written some of the most unforgettable moments in movie history”.
He also said the evergreen celebrity “loves Italy”. Connery, 76, will attend the opening and closing ceremonies in October and introduce a 14-film restrospective starting with Sidney Lumet’s gritty 1965 army drama The Hill, often considered his best work, and ending with Finding Forrester (2000).
The former Edinburgh milkman and coffin polisher – since 2000 Sir Sean Connery – will also receive the festival’s first career achievement award. Last month he was similarly honoured by the American Film Institute.
A DVD in which Connery looks back on his life and career will be presented when the Rome fest debuts on October 13.
Interviewed for the DVD by Italian movie buff Mario Sesti, Connery goes back to his early days – “I wasn’t that good at cleaning coffins, but the money wasn’t bad” – and, as a famous golf lover, explains the double meaning of his Bahamas home, Out of Bounds.
He is teasingly non-committal about an urban legend that he declined to travel to Venice to pick up a Golden Lion because there weren’t any good golf courses in the area.
To the dismay of many fans, he confirms that sex is a distant third to golf and whiskey on the list of his passions.
Asked why he never wrote an autobiography, he replies: “I spent so long correcting all the mistakes in the first book about me that I got fed up with the idea”.
For most screen fans, Connery is the definitive Bond.
He made six 007 films – Dr No (’62), From Russia With Love (’63), Goldfinger (’64), Thunderball (’65), You Only Live Twice (’67) and Diamonds Are Forever (’71) before swearing “never again” – only to come back in the softer-edged, spoofy Never Say Never Again (’83).
Connery soon tired of the money-spinning franchise, despite the fact that, with “The name is Bond, James Bond”, it put him up with Clark Gable (“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” and Humphrey Bogart (“We’ll always have Paris”) in the contenders for all-time immortal lines. He tried to break away from Bond and demonstrate his ability in a string of variably received films including Hitchcock’s Marnie (’64), John Boorman’s Zardoz (’71), Martin Ritt’s The Molly Maguires (’74) and John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King (’75).
But his only Oscar came late in his career, a Best Supporting Actor gong for his portrayal of a gutsy Chicago cop in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987).
After that, he worked for Steven Spielberg in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade before basking in an Indian summer with blockbusters like The Hunt for Red October, Rising Sun, The Rock and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Rome’s debut festival will run at the new ‘City of Music’ Auditorium between October 13 and October 21, featuring around 80 movies.
The initiative has been given a cool reception by Venice officials, who fear it may usurp the position of its festival, the world’s oldest, on the international scene.
Venice, which will host the 63rd edition of its festival in September, probably has good reason to be wary.
Aside from the issue of facilities – Venice’s pale in comparison with the Auditorium designed by iconic architect Renzo Piano – the Eternal City has special appeal because it has always played a much bigger role in the filmmaking world.
Many Italian and Hollywood classics were set in the capital, such as Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and William Wyler’s 1953 romance, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Rome’s legendary Cinecitta’ Studios are where Fellini and other maestros like Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica produced their best work during the post-war golden age of Italian cinema.
The studios and the city continue to play a starring role in the industry.
Martin Scorsese shot Gangs of New York at Cinecitta’ and Mel Gibson filmed parts of The Passion of the Christ there, while Ocean’s Twelve and Mission Impossible III are among the movies Rome has recently provided backdrops for.
Therefore, some cinema experts believe that, if the capital’s festival takes off, many producers will prefer to present their wares here than in Venice.
What’s more, the controversies and organization problems that have overshadowed Venice at times in recent years could make it vulnerable to the advances of a glamorous upstart.
For example, Italy’s own Roberto Benigni – the director of the Oscar-winning Life Is Beautiful – presented his last movie The Tiger and the Snow in Toronto, not Venice, last year.
Stay tuned to CBn for all the latest news on Casino Royale and all things James Bond 007.