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Sex-Themed Movies Top Rome Film Festival Awards

Isabella Ferrari E la chiamano estate Jean-Marc BarrLarry Clark movie, controversial “Italian Shame” win at Rome Film Festival 2012

Larry Clark's Marfa Girl, a loosely structured drama featuring intertwining stories, boozing, spanking, and teen sex in a small Texan border town, won the Marcus Aurelius Award for Best Film at the 2012 edition of the Rome Film Festival. Instead of finding its way into theaters in the United States, Marfa Girl will be made available (for $6 or so) via Clark's website. (Image: Isabella Ferrari, Jean-Marc Barr E la chiamano estate.)

The Jeff Nichols-led International Jury chose to hand the Best Director Award to Paolo Franchi for the sexless marriage drama E la chiamano estate (And They Call It Summer), which according to The Hollywood Reporter's Eric J. Lyman, was booed “in at least one of its Rome screenings.” One problem with Franchi's film, at least in the minds of some, is that its (extra-marital) sex scenes have been considered akin to those in a “porn movie.” Also as a result of its sexual content, E la chiamano estate, starring Jean-Marc Barr, Isabella Ferrari, and Luca Argentero, has been labeled by some as “the Italian Shame.”

Whether or not that's a fair label, things didn't get much better for the “Italian Shame” when Isabella Ferrari was announced as Best Actress, which, as per the Reporter, “prompted shouts of Vergogna! Vergogna!” (Shame! Shame! – probably not in reference to the Steve McQueen /Michael Fassbender movie) from those present at the awards ceremony. I should add that a whole array of film festival winners have been booed in the last several decades, ranging from Jacques Demy's classic The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to David Cronenberg for the still controversial Crash. So, Isabella Ferrari is in good company.

Rome Film Festival's other winners: Jérémie Elkaïm, The Motel Life

The Rome Film Festival's less controversial Best Actor was Jérémie Elkaïm for Hand in Hand / Main dans la main, a musical directed by his companion Valérie Donzelli, co-written by Elkaïm and Donzelli, and starring the couple alongside Valérie Lemercier.

The Special Jury Prize went to Claudio Giovannesi's crime drama Alì ha gli occhi azzurri (Ali Has Blue Eyes), with Nader Sarhan and Stefano Rabatti as two small-time teen hoodlums, while Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue won the Best Screenplay Award for The Motel Life. Directed by Gabe and Alan Polsky, The Motel Life follows two working-class brothers who quickly leave their Reno motel after getting themselves involved in a hit-and-run accident. Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Stephen Dorff, and Kris Kristofferson star. The Motel Life also happened to be the Rome Film Festival's Audience Award winner.

And finally, Marilyne Fontaine took home the Emerging Actor or Actress Award for Jacques Doillon's Un enfant de toi (A Child of Yours), and cinematographer Arnau Valls Colomer won the Best Technical Contribution prize for his work on Enrique Rivero's Mexican family drama Mai morire (Never Die; it's unclear why only the Italian-language title is used on both the Rome Film Festival website and the IMDb.)

Rome Film Festival jury

Besides Chair Jeff Nichols, the Rome Film Festival's International Jury was comprised of Timur Bekmambetov, Valentina Cervi, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Chris Fujiwara, Leila Hatami and P.J. Hogan. Former Venice Film Festival director Marco Mueller organized this year's Rome Film Festival.

Isabella Ferrari, Jean-Marc Barr E la chiamano estate photo: Pavarotti & Friends.

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