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ROME — The Italian media reported Monday that the International Rome Film Festival’s board has officially approved a plan to shift the 7-year-old festival’s dates to November, immediately sparking complaints from other Italian festivals whose schedules will be disrupted by the change.
An official announcement is expected from the festival Tuesday, and as of late Monday, the festival’s website still reflected the previous set of dates — Oct. 27-Nov. 4 — and the cultural calendar for the city of Rome had the dates listed as Oct. 18-26. But scores of Italian media reports Monday corroborated earlier comments from high-ranking festival officials to The Hollywood Reporter that the festival would indeed be shifted to November.
The new dates: Nov. 9-17, at least a week earlier than the dates new artistic director Marco Mueller had lobbied for.
With the Nov. 9-17 spot on the calendar, the Rome festival avoids a direct conflict with the 30-year-old Turin Film Festival, a prominent discovery festival that will take place this year Nov. 23-Dec. 1. But it will overlap with the entire schedule of the 53-year-old Festival dei Popoli in Florence, the country’s oldest documentary festival, which is scheduled for Nov. 10-17.
Newspapers reported that Turin Mayor Piero Fassino has appealed to Minister of Culture Lorenzo Ornaghi to intervene to force the Rome festival to switch its dates back to October. And the Festival dei Popoli ran an opinion article on its website Monday — with the support of AFIC, the Association of Italian Film Festivals — calling on Mueller to “find a correct and acceptable way out” of the impasse. Both festivals risk decreased media attention if Rome’s dates are shifted.
Rome organizers believe that by changing its dates to November, the festival’s The Business Street market event will gain stronger footing as a halfway point between the big markets at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and the Berlin International Film Festival in February. Additionally, they hope that with a late-in-the-year date the festival might serve as a new springboard for winter releases either vying for Oscar eligibility or the Christmastime box office.
At its Monday meeting, the Rome board also approved the festival’s budget, which is expected to be €11 million ($14.3 million), lower than in previous editions of the festival but in the same range as more established festivals including the rival Venice Film Festival, where Mueller had served as artistic director for eight years before being replaced by National Film Museum head Alberto Barbera.
But the Rome board did not finalize the terms for Mueller’s contract. Negotiations on that topic have dragged on for weeks for what a spokesperson said were “technical” reasons. News on that front could come later in the week, the media reported.
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