Rome fest responds to Moretti's 'attack'

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ROME -- Italian auteur and first-year Turin Film Festival creative director Nanni Moretti was looking for greater visibility when he blasted the two-year-old RomaCinemaFest, one of the Rome event's directors said Friday.

Moretti attracted headlines Wednesday when he used the press briefing announcing the lineup for the Nov. 23-Dec. 1 Turin festival as a forum to attack the RomaCinemaFest, the just-finished festival in Moretti's hometown. Among other things, Moretti said that Rome's choice of a date midway between much more established festivals in Venice (which celebrated its 64th edition in September) and Turin (about to hold its 25th edition) proved the young Rome festival was looking for trouble.

"I am not looking for problems, but I am looking at the calendar, and when Rome picks a date that's one month after Venice and one month before Turin it means they want a competition," Moretti said.

According to Mario Sesti, Rome's co-director in charge of the well-regarded Extra sidebar, Moretti may not have been looking for problems, but what he was looking for was attention.

"I'm sorry that Moretti has been limited to attacking the RomaCinemaFest as a way to attract more visibility," Sesti said in a statement, adding that the 53-year-old Palme d'Or-winning director turned aggressive because he is "unable to cooperate."

The exchange could be the start of a war of words between Turin and Rome -- the sites of Italy's first two film studios from the early 1900s, respectively -- just as a series of clashes between Venice and Rome appear to have cooled off.

Last year, Venice and Rome traded barbs over the timing of several key announcements and Rome's choice of a start date, which Venice said was too close to Venice's finish. But Rome moved its start back five days for its second edition, and officials from all three festivals met late in 2006 and said they agreed to co-exist in peace. But that agreement, Moretti said on Wednesday, had left him unconvinced.

"Turin, Venice, and Rome agreed last year to work together and for a few months that's what I said, that the festivals do not compete, that they have different identities," Moretti said. "But the truth is, this bothers me."
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