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Rome Film Festival chief hints at Tarantino "surprise"

By Hanna Rantala

ROME (Reuters) - Quentin Tarantino may present his new western "Django Unchained" at the Rome Film Festival in November, the event's artistic director hinted on Wednesday.

The film has not been listed in the official programme but Marco Mueller, who previously headed the Venice Film Festival, said "two surprise films" would be shown at the event. He dropped a heavy suggestion that Django, starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Di Caprio, would be among them.

"You will see Tarantino soon, here. You will see him here soon for a big surprise," Mueller said.

"This is something we will announce in detail in a few days' time, and you will see that Django will be stepping on the stage of the Auditorium."

The film is the latest work from the Pulp Fiction director since he released "Inglourious Basterds" in 2009, a historical fantasy about a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers who assassinate Nazi leaders in occupied France in World War Two.

Django Unchained continues the theme of vengeance wreaked against historical villains, telling the story of a former slave in America's Deep South who attempts to free his wife from a ruthless plantation owner.

Film buff Tarantino's latest work is something of an homage to the Italian "spaghetti western" cinema of the 1960s and 70s: Italian-language Wild West movies filmed in Europe such as Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly".

Its name refers to Django, a 1966 spaghetti western starring Franco Nero, who will appear in a cameo role in the Tarantino film.

NOT VENICE

Confirmed in the line-up is the latest instalment of the Twilight series, "Breaking Dawn Part 2" which will premiere at the festival, although its two stars Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart are not expected on the red carpet.

Walter Hill's "Bullet to the Head", an action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone about a policeman and a hitman who unite against a common enemy, is also to be screened at the festival, which will run from November 9 through 17.

Roman Coppola's "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" starring Charlie Sheen, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman is competing for the event's top prize, while DreamWorks 3D adventure "Rise of the Guardians" is showing out of competition.

Film bloggers have speculated that the other surprise could be "Only God Forgives", starring Ryan Gosling in a tale about a Thai boxing match between a policeman and a gangster. The movie is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Danish filmmaker behind 2011's hit "Drive".

Mueller was expected to raise the profile of the Rome festival when he was appointed earlier in 2012, and has been under pressure to produce the kind of star-studded programme that is designed to heat up its rivalry with Venice.

Mueller said he felt there was room for both festivals and he felt Rome had something alternative to offer.

"My take on Venice is that Venice will always continue to exist as a major platform to create the visibility and the right profile for a film," Mueller told Reuters.

"In Rome we have the possibility of doing something very different."

(Writing by Naomi O'Leary, editing by Paul Casciato)

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