Rome Fest Could Be Pushed Back a Month if Marco Mueller Appointed Director

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Change could be made to create a festival halfway between Venice and Toronto in early September, and Berlin in February.


ROME -- the International Rome Film Festival could push back its dates by a month, coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., if Marco Mueller is selected to take over as the festival's new artistic director, Italian newspapers reported Friday.

Debate is still going on among the Rome festival's main shareholders over whether to tap Mueller, who was pushed from the Venice Film Festival after two four-year mandates, to stick with incumbent Piera Detassis, or to opt for a dark horse option, as artistic director.

Mueller has been tight lipped about the process so far, but the Italian newspapers, relying on comments from Italian and foreign industry figures in Berlin, said the date change could be made under Mueller in order to create an important festival halfway between Venice and Toronto in early September, and Berlin in February. The plan would also involve upgrading Rome's already successful market event, The Business Street, with a more ambitious event likely to focus on Asian and European trade, the articles said.

The decision on Rome's artistic director job has been postponed three times, and there is no official word when it will actually take place.

Sources say the decision hinges on the fate of 90-year-old Gian Luigi Rondi, Rome's venerable president, whose term expires in June. A decision to tap Mueller for the artistic director job would likely be preceded by a move to replace Rondi with former Warner Bros-Italia head Paolo Ferrari. But Rondi, who has one of six votes in the proceedings, says he would like to stay on the job and that he wants Detassis to be reappointed for another term.

Last week, Riccardo Tozzi, the head of Italian film industry group ANICA spoke out in favor of Mueller, arguing that the seven-year-old Rome event could "disappear" without his leadership.

Earlier this week, Detassis broke her silence to blast Tozzi for his comments, saying they were "disrespectful" to her and to Rome's selection process.

Also this week, Alberto Barbera, who replaced Mueller at Venice's helm, said it would not be possible to have a civil relationship between the Venice and Rome festivals if Mueller was in charge in Rome. The two events have had an antagonistic relationship in the past, but that has calmed in recent years.

Pushing back Rome's dates by a month to late November would nearly double the down time between the two events, and could help smooth ruffled feathers on both sides. But it would almost surely raise the ire of the well-regarded Turin Film Festival, a discovery festival usually scheduled for mid-November each year.

The articles did not say if the change to November would go into effect this year or starting at some point further in the future. Any significant change in Rome's dates would almost survey require the schedule to be reshuffled at the Parco della Musica venue that hosts the main festival events and also hosts a wide variety of concerts, theatre and dance productions, and other events.