Richard Gere presents 'Days of Heaven' at the International Rome Film Festival 2011

Richard Gere introduces 'Days of Heaven' in Rome
No stranger to the International Rome Film Festival having attended two earlier editions of the fledgling kermesse, Richard Gere was back at the Auditorium Parco della Musica on Thursday to attend a special screening of the newly restored print of Terrence Malick's 1978 masterpiece Days of Heaven. Crowds lining the red carpet at this year's festival have been noticeably thinner than in previous years, but the charismatic appeal of a huge Hollywood star had worked its magic and Richard Gere's arrival was accompanied by hundreds of fans clamouring for a glimpse of the actor as he strolled the length of the red carpet, shaking hands and signing only the occasional autograph. The welcome in Sala Sinopoli was no less enthusiastic, and he was greeted with cheers and rapturous applause when he appeared on stage to introduce the movie.

After the film, it was a contemplative Richard Gere who returned to the stage to discuss the film with Claudio Masenza. Explaining that he hadn't seen Days of Heaven himself for over thirty years, he confessed that he found it difficult to relate to the man he had just seen on screen and that his memories of making the movie, and that period of his life, felt rather dreamlike now. Thanks to Masenza's pertinent questions about the technical aspects behind the making of Days of Heaven, however, this turned into a brief, but fascinating conversation, full of revealing insights into what it was like for the young actor to work with the sometimes exasperating director Terence Malick in what was his first lead movie role. Commenting on Malick's obsessive reediting of Days of Heaven, Gere joked: If they hadn't taken it away from him, he'd still be editing it today!

On the following evening Richard Gere was back at the festival once more for the closing awards ceremony, where he was presented with the 2011 Marc'Aurelio lifetime achievement acting award, joining the ranks of previous winners Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, and the 2010 winner Julianne Moore.

To get a taste of the atmosphere at the Days Heaven screening watch the video of Richard Gere on the red carpet and in Sala Sinopoli below (or click here to watch on YouTube).