Venice, September 5 - Laughter and applause greeted an Italian documentary about Rome's gritty sides that was screened Thursday at the Venice International Film Festival. Sacred GRA by Gianfranco Rosi tells a series of stories that take place around the rough edges of Rome's 70-kilometre stretch of highway that rings the Eternal City, the 'Grande Raccordo Anulare' (Great Ring Road). It's rare that documentaries are entered in competition at the festival but the popularity of Rosi's film may change that, with its stories of eccentric junk collectors, insect experts and eel fishing. Rosi says his documentary, made as he traveled the GRA over two years, shows that modern Italy is not just enduring a deep economic malaise but also suffering an identity crisis. "The film is nothing more than filming reality," from the sidelines, capturing views of a life filled with sometimes unusual characters, says Rosi. Film experts say that Sacred GRA has the best shot of all Italian entries at the festival of winning the Golden Lion. The second documentary in competition this year is Oscar-winning director Errol Morris's The Unknown Known about former U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.