Rome Film Festival to Announce New Artistic Director by Jan. 19

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Current artistic director Piera Detassis

The mandate for current artistic director Piera Detassis is set to expire Friday.

ROME – The International Rome Film Festival said Wednesday that it would announce no later than Jan. 19 who will be the event’s next artistic director, with newspapers speculating that the choice is likely to be Marco Mueller, the recently ousted director of the Venice Film Festival.

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The mandate for current artistic director Piera Detassis -- the editor of Ciak, the country’s leading film magazine -- is set to expire Friday, and the Foundation for Roman Cinema, the festival’s oversight body, could also decide to renew Detassis’ contract for another term. Giorgio Gosetti, the founder of the Venice Days sidebar, and Mario Sesti, the director of Rome’s well-regarded Extra sidebar, have also been mentioned as possible candidates to replace Detassis. All three -- Detassis, Gosetti, and Sesti -- were founding directors of the seven-year-old Rome event.

But the arrival of Mueller, which some news sources say is almost a foregone conclusion, remains the most intriguing possibility, as it would no doubt rekindle the bad blood between the Roman festival and its much more established counterpart in Venice.

The two festivals clashed repeatedly in the early years of the Rome event’s existence before Mueller and Detassis established a kind of détente over the past three years. But following Mueller’s unceremonial ouster last month, the veteran artistic director could be itching for a fight.

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The powers behind the Rome festival are split on whether the Rome-born Mueller would be a good fit in Rome or not. Gian Luigi Rondi, the festival’s president, says he would prefer to stick with Detassis, while most of the local and regional government entities that help underwrite Rome’s budget have indicated support for the high-profile Mueller. The few festival advertisers that have commented on the topic appear to lean toward Mueller.

Rome said the decision on the festival’s artistic future could come as soon a Friday, the day Detassis’ mandate expires, and that it would come no later than Jan. 19.

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