Stars flock to Rome film festival opening night

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Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes will be among the movie stars walking the red carpet at the opening night of the 2010 Rome film festival on Thursday.

Knightley and Mendes star alongside Sam Worthington and Guillaume Canet in Massy Tadjedin's directorial debut "Last Night," the romantic thriller which opens the festival.

Other hotly-awaited films include John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole" - starring Nicole Kidman in the lead role and marking her debut as a producer - which tells the story of a couple whose only child suddenly dies.

The festival, which runs from October 28 to November 5, also focuses on independent cinema, featuring films from countries including the United States, Mexico, Ireland, Denmark and Japan.

US director Martin Scorsese is to attend the premiere on October 30 of a digitally remastered version of "La Dolce Vita," renovated by the Gucci fashion house for the 50th anniversary of its release.

Gucci said it wanted to pay homage to Italian director Federico Fellini's masterpiece, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg, for having paved the way for a new world with an obsession for style, fashion and celebrity."

"Oranges and Sunshine," the eagerly awaited debut by British director Jim Loach, son of veteran film-maker Ken Loach, will be screened at the festival following its premier in Korea this month.

The film, shot on location in Nottingham, London and Adelaide, South Australia, is based on the scandal, discovered in the 1980s, of thousands of children deported without their parents' knowledge to Australia, where many suffered abuse.

Six works will have their world premiere, including a feature film on the adventures of London-based "nightmare investigator" Dylan Dog, the star of a popular Italian horror comic strip.

The festival, which has an annual budget of 13.5 million euros (18.7 million dollars), has received more support from 160 sponsors and is 70 per cent self-financed, organisers said.

Fans of the "Back to the Future" trilogy are in for a treat as the festival plays host to an electric version of the iconic DeLorean car.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the trilogy, Enel and Wired magazine's Italian edition have converted a DeLorean to run on a 90-kilowatt engine powered by lithium-ion batteries.

The car, driven by a team from Wired, set off from Milan on Monday - October 25, the day Marty McFly first travels back in time in Robert Zemeckis' film - to arrive in Rome for the opening night of the film festival.

Italian actors, directors and trade unionists have threatened to disrupt the red carpet opening with a protest against the government's recent arts budget cuts.