Italy film fests work toward truce

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ROME -- Italy's three main film festivals have taken the first steps toward a truce that the Italian government says will put an end to the feuding among them, though officials indicated Thursday that there remains much they do not agree on.

Officials from the RomaCinemaFest, which debuted in October, along with those from established rivals in Venice and Turin agreed to a vague collaboration agreement they are hailing as a move toward a ceasefire. Meetings were attended by the directors of all three festivals along with the mayors of each city.

Starting soon after its creation was announced in 2005, the big-budget RomaCinemaFest began locking horns with the venerable Venice festival, which held its 63rd edition in September. There was less than five weeks between the close of Venice and the opening of Rome. The Turin Film Festival, meanwhile, mostly stayed above the fray leading to its 24th edition last month.

The Rome event focused largely on popular mass-market films, while Venice was slanted more toward world premieres and artistic films. Turin traditionally focuses on emerging directors.

Francesco Rutelli, a former mayor of Rome and the current Minister of Culture, came out of the talks hailing the accord among the three festivals as an opportunity to jointly promote Italian films during the span from September to November. The deal also cements an effort for the festivals to each develop a separate identity to prevent what Rutelli called "the risk of overlap and conflict" among the events.

"We will simply give Italian audiences three months of great films every year," Rutelli said in a statement.

But the agreement failed to solve the largest point of contention between Rome and Venice -- the relatively short span between the events.

Venice officials said Thursday that the topic remained wide open for discussion, while Rome officials said that while specific dates for the 2007 RomaCinemaFest have yet to be decided, it is unlikely that Rome will move its dates more than a few days.

Another hot topic involves state funding. The perception is that, with more than one major Italian film festival on the calendar, already-limited state funding will be further limited.

After the talks, Venice mayor Massimo Cacciari said that starting next year, Venice will be the sole recipient of state funding for film festivals.

"It was decided that Rome would not be a recipient of state funding," a smiling Cacciari said during an interview aired by state broadcaster RAI.

RomaCinemaFest co-director Giorgio Gosetti, meanwhile, said in an interview that while the festival would "probably" not receive state funding, it will continue to work hand in hand with the national government on other issues. The initial Rome festival received considerable funding from regional and municipal governments.

"I don't see why there has to be competition between the two festivals," Gosetti said.
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