RomaCinemaFest changes hands

Gian Luigi Rondi officially named chief

ROME -- Leadership of the RomaCinemaFest was officially passed to its new president, Gian Luigi Rondi, who officially took over from Goffredo Bettini on Thursday in front of a packed house at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the home of the Rome festival.

The 86-year-old Rondi -- the dean of Italian film critics, head of the David di Donatello awards and one-time head of the Venice Film Festival -- was solemn in taking over the festival from Bettini, who made jokes and said he was eager to get back to his political career.

Little new information was announced at the event, in which Rondi said that most changes, such as forging closer ties to the Donatellos and increasing the focus on Italian productions, would not be seen until the 2009 edition of the festival, given that so much preparation already has gone into this year's event.

"I'm a man who's been asked to take over a ship that's already left the dock," Rondi quipped.

Bettini was forced out after the May election of new Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who ran on a platform that criticized the festival as being too extravagant.