Rome fest adjusts dates

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ROME -- Facing intense pressure after moving its starting date to within three weeks of the close of the Venice Film Festival, the RomaCinemaFest has picked a new set of dates that will nearly double the span between Italy's most visible festivals.

Rome officials said Friday that the three-year-old festival will take place Oct. 22-31. The festival had been scheduled for Oct. 2-12, a little more than three weeks after the close of the Aug. 27-Sept. 6 Venice festival.

The new dates are much closer to those from the 2007 RomaCinemaFest, which ran Oct. 18-27.

Previously, RomaCinemaFest president Goffredo Bettini had said the change in dates was a one-off move because of a scheduling conflict at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the Rome festival's headquarters.

Although Venice officials were officially mum about the date change, the early October start for Rome attracted plenty of criticism elsewhere: Giancarlo Galan, president of the region that includes Venice, called the change of dates "miserable news" and Italian Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli told reporters last weekend that he would "appreciate it if Rome stopped stepping on Venice's toes," though he said he could do nothing to force a change.

On Friday, Rome's Bettini relented with what he called a "difficult" decision.

"Popular opinion and the views from the world of cinema have illustrated that this is a problem," Bettini said.

The move is good news for Venice, which will now enjoy a 46-day gap between its close and the Rome opening.

And it is even better news for the small but respected Pordenone Silent Film Festival, set to hold its 27th edition this year. With its dates set for Oct. 4-11 -- a period completely covered by Rome's previous dates -- the Pordenone event risked being completely overshadowed by Rome. Pordenone organizers complained loudly after Rome's previous dates were announced earlier this month.

But the news is bad for the 26-year-old Turin Film Festival, which takes place each year in late November. Last year, auteur and first-time Turin artistic director Nanni Moretti repeatedly blasted Rome for its decision to hold its festival too close to Turin's traditional dates. As of late Friday, Moretti had not commented about the latest switch in Rome's spot on the calendar.
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