RomaCinemaFest might scale back

Venice appears to keep upper hand in Italy

ROME -- The burgeoning rivalry between the Venice Film Festival and RomaCinemaFest may no longer be an issue.

The two events have tussled for stars and titles since the Rome festival was first announced on Venice's Lido in 2005. But the RomaCinemaFest, which for the past two years has fielded teams of A-list Hollywood stars and blockbuster films, might be putting its checkbook away in favor of a much toned-down event, it was confirmed Tuesday.

Mayor-elect Gianni Alemanno said that he plans to make the Rome festival more about Italian productions than international fare and Hollywood glitterati. "My intention is not to cancel the RomaCinemaFest but to make it more about Italian films than about Hollywood stars," Alemanno said.

Alemanno, who had promised Romans during his campaign to cut back spending on the festival, also said that he will replace festival head Goffredo Bettini with writer-director Pasquale Squitieri, best known as the husband of iconic Italian starlet Claudia Cardinale.

"The Rome festival is pointless," Squitieri proclaimed Tuesday. "The festival spends bags of money on useless things like hotel bills and bodyguards for Hollywood stars."

In its first two editions, the Rome event has attracted a long list of A-list Hollywood talent, including Sean Connery, Francis Ford Coppola, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Sophia Loren, Robert Redford and Martin Scorsese.

On Tuesday, Venice officials were officially mum about the developments, but Venice mayor Massimo Cacciari exclaimed on state broadcaster RAI: "Alemanno is an intelligent man. ... Perhaps he will simply close the RomaCinemaFest."

It was not clear how Alemanno will remove Bettini, whose mandate lasts until 2011. The festival's directorship is appointed by the Foundation for Cinema in Rome, which -- like the festival itself -- is not under the official control of the city government.