Rome fest: Smaller budget, fewer problems?

General director says the goal is sustainable levels

ROME -- The reductions in the budget for this year's Rome Film Festival are by design, festival general director Francesca Via told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, adding that further reductions could be in store for the 2009 edition.

Earlier in September, it was revealed that the festival's third edition would have a bankroll of 15.5 million euros ($22.3 million), a reduction of about 12% compared with 2007. Contributions from various levels of government remained consistent, with most of the reduction coming from private sector sponsorship.

Via, the festival's second-highest ranking administrator, said that the reduction is aimed at reaching "sustainable" levels for the budget. She said that the 2009 festival is likely to see further reductions until the budget levels out at about 13.5 million euro ($19.4 million), another 13% drop from this year's levels.

"It may sound like a paradox, but we're actually happy with the lower level," Via said. "This budget seems more prudent."

The most obvious change from last year will be fewer films. This year's festival will have about 68 official films screening, a big drop from 102 in 2007. Staffing also has been culled by about 10%, Via said.

Since the festival began in 2006, various government contributions have totaled about 6 million euros ($8.6 million) a year, a level Via said will remain more or less consistent going forward.

But private sponsorship will drop from about 11.5 million euros ($16.6 million) last year to an estimated 9.5 million euros ($13.7 million) this year, and to 7.5 million euros ($10.8 million) farther out.

The lower figure is more sustainable over the medium term, Via said, allowing the festival to be more selective in the sponsorship it accepts.