Rome Film Festival President Fires Back at Government's Date Change Criticisms

4:59 PM PST 05/15/2012 by Eric J. Lyman

Paolo Ferrari responds after the Minister of Culture earlier blasted Rome for acting against the "overall interests" of Italian cinema.

ROME – International Rome Film Festival President Paolo Ferrari brushed aside harsh comments from Minister of Culture Lorenzo Ornaghi, who criticized Rome for pushing its dates within a week of those of the Turin Film Festival, saying Tuesday he sent the minister a letter to explain the festival's motives behind the move.

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Ferrari, the former head of Warner Bros Italia, was appointed to his post in February. One of Ferrari’s first acts was to name former Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller to the same post in Rome. It was Mueller who insisted that the Rome festival shift its dates from their traditional position in mid-March into November.

The seven-year-old event is now scheduled to take place Nov. 9-17. Organizers hope the new dates will increase interest in the festival’s The Business Street market event while also positioning the festival to host the premieres of some late-year film releases.

The change angered the Turin Film Festival, which will hold its 30th edition this year Nov. 23-Dec. 1. The short break between the two events is expected to drain media and sponsor interest away from Turin.

On Monday, Ornaghi blasted Rome for acting “obstinately,” and said its decision to move its dates was “against the overall interests of Italian cinema.”

A day later, Ferrari fired back, explaining to Italian reporters that Rome offered to give Turin space to promote its lineup during the Rome festival, and that scheduling conflicts with the Auditorium Parco della Musica venue limited the festival’s choices.

“The other option was to set the festival after Turin, but then we would have run into a conflict with the American Film Market in Los Angeles,” Ferrari said.

Ferrari also scoffed at the idea that the short break between Rome’s close and Turin’s open was necessarily problematic for the second festival, pointing to the short three-day break between the Montreal Film Festival in Canada, which will conclude this year on September 3, and the Toronto Film Festival, which starts just three days later.

Ferrari said  all those topics were discussed in meetings between Rome officials, their counterparts from Turin, and officials from Ornaghi’s office.

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