Rome Film Fest Looks to Pitch Red Carpet as Destination for Wedding Photos

Rome Film Festival Red Carpet - H 2012
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Rome Film Festival Red Carpet - H 2012

The idea emerged as Ignazio Marino defeated festival backer Gianni Alemanno to be Rome's next mayor, possibly further weakening the festival's financial position.

ROME – While backers of the International Rome Film Festival wait to learn the impact of the election of Ignazio Marino as Rome’s next mayor, they have come up with a creative new way to help ease at least some of the festival’s budget issues: rent out the carpet for newlywed photos and other events.

Roman voters went to the polls Sunday and Monday and selected Marino over incumbent Gianni Alemanno. A win for Alemanno would have likely been better news for the festival: though Marino a week ago called the festival “an important cultural event that deserves to be financed,” it is not clear whether he would be as strong a supporter of it as Alemanno, who last week increased the city government’s support for the event by 36 percent to €1.5 million ($2.0 million) as part of a wide-ranging plan to help resolve the eight-year-old festival’s budget issues. As Marino reviews the cash-strapped city’s finances, there is no legal impediment to his choosing to reduce support of the festivals to its previous levels.

If that happens, it would continue a recent stretch of economic bad news: at least three key sponsors have recently indicated they would reduce their backing of the event, according to Paolo Fallai, who covers the festival for Correiere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper. Fallai reported Monday that BNL, a major bank, would reduce its support by a tenth from €150,000 ($200,000), lottery operator Lottomatica by a third from €100,000 ($130,000) previously, and carmaker Lancia would no longer provide the in-kind contribution of automobile services.

Meanwhile, Fallai on Monday said the city government has yet to provide €690,000 ($900,000) of backing promised from 2012. But Festival President Paolo Ferrari, a former head of Warner Bros.-Italia, has denied that, saying the festival finished 2012 in the black. Ferrari, along with former Venice artistic director Marco Mueller, took over leadership of the beleagured festival a year ago.

Festival stakeholders last week asked Italy’s Minister of Culture Massimo Bray for a ministerial contribution of €1 million ($1.3 million) toward the event's budget, but the ministry has yet to respond. The ministry gives the Venice Film Festival €7 million ($9.1 million) each year, but has generally declined to support other Italian film festivals.

At 1,300 square meters (nearly 14,000 square feet), the Rome festival’s red carpet is considered the largest film festival red carpet in the world -- leaving room for plenty of couples to pose during the event. But the festival also takes place during November, the month with the fewest weddings in the Italian capital: just 3 percent of the annual total.

It is unlikely that using the red carpet for photos will make a big difference in the festival’s bottom line, but the plan illustrates the kind of out-of-the-box thinking the festival is employing. Fallai attributed the idea to Lamberto Mancini, the festival’s director general who previously worked at Rome’s famous Cinecitta film studios, where dozens of film loving couples a year pay to take their wedding photos on film sets.

The eighth edition of the Rome festival, which will be reformatted to focus less on world premieres and more on films and stars likely to resonate with the Roman public, is set to take place this year Nov. 8-17. 

Twitter: @EricJLyman