Rome gives Venice space

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Facing intense pressure after moving its start 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 3-year-old festival will take place Oct. 22-31. The fest had been scheduled for Oct. 2-12, just 26 days after the close of the Aug. 27-Sept. 6 Venice fest.

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

RomaCinemaFest president Goffredo Bettini had said the 2008 change is a one-off move because of a scheduling conflict at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the Rome fest'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 earlier dates "miserable news" when they were announced, and Italian Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli told reporters that he would "appreciate it if Rome stopped stepping on Venice's toes."

On Friday, 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," he said.

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

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 event risked being overshadowed. Pordenone organizers complained after Rome's original dates were announced this month.

The news, however, is bad for the 26-year-old Turin Film Festival, which takes place in late November. Last year, 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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