Roma fest eyes change for '07

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A change of date for next year's RomaCinemaFest might be in the cards as a result of complaints by the Venice Film Festival that the inaugural Rome event fell too close to the more established Venice bash.

"It's fair to talk about the possibility of changing the date, and I know this will be discussed," Giorgio Gosetti, the festival's general director, said in an interview as the Rome festival wound down during the weekend. "We have to listen to what the Ministry of Culture has to say, to talk to the private sector, to the organizers of Venice and of the Turin Film Festival (which is held in December). But in the end, it is my belief that the dates selected for the RomaCinemaFest won't change much."

One of Venice's chief complaints was that Rome selected its dates too close to Venice's for the events to peacefully coexist. Venice concluded five weeks before the Rome event got under way.

But date shifts were definitely not high on the agenda Monday as the organizers of the Rome inaugural event toasted the success of its bow on the world's film-festival circuit. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say that objectively we deserve a 7. But I'd give us an 8.5 because we did it as a first-year festival," said Gosetti, adding that the bar will be set higher next year.

Organizers said they were ecstatic in the wake of the festival, which saw its red carpet graced by such figures as Nicole Kidman, Sean Connery, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Robert De Niro. The event attracted an estimated half-million visitors and sold 56,000 tickets —both figures above expectations.

"Of course we need to change some things here and there, and we need to improve from where we started, but overall I think we got things right, and we will continue on the path we are on," Gosetti said.

There were some rumblings of discontent among attendees about the difficulty of moving between the festival's far-flung venues, a relative absence of cutting-edge films, difficulties in the distribution of tickets and a version of a business market that some said lacked enough options to spark many sales. But most general comments from participants were positive.

"The facilities were beautiful, the organizers really took care of us, and there were enough sales agents (in the market) to keep me busy," said Mark Holdom, a buyer with EuroCine Films. "I've got no complaints."

Luca Mertz, an independent Belgian producer and a film-festival veteran, agreed. "Nobody said it was perfect, but for a first-year festival I think things went pretty well," Mertz said. "It will only get better."

Gosetti said the fest plans to increase its role with the private sector by increasing the focus on the side market the Business Street.
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