Rome Film Festival Closed 2012 in the Black, Organizers Say

Paolo Ferrari Headshot - P 2012

Paolo Ferrari Headshot - P 2012

Reports had been circulating that the event finished last year as much as $940,000 in debt due to weak ticket sales and sponsor support.

ROME – The parent organization of the International Rome Film Festival finished last year in the black, according to a statement released Friday by its president, Paolo Ferrari, contradicting recent reports indicating that it had a significant budget shortfall due to weak festival ticket sales and sponsor support, along with cost overruns.

Ferrari, who came to the eight-year-old Rome festival along with former Venice artistic director Marco Mueller last year, did not state how much of a profit the Fondazione Cinema per Roma made in 2012, saying that the event’s financial statement had yet to be approved by the board. But he said, “commitments … and scrupulous control over production costs of the International Rome Film festival … have made it possible for the Fondazione Cinema per Roma to close the year 2012 with a positive business performance.”

The statement from the festival said Ferrari’s remarks were made to correct recent speculation in the local press that the festival finished the year in debt. In December, for example, the country’s largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera, said the Rome festival finished €690,000 ($940,000) in the red.

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If Ferrari’s statement is true, it would be an important dollop of good news for the event that was surrounded by controversy in its first edition under the leadership of Ferrari and Mueller, ranging from a bitter battle between stakeholders who wanted Mueller to take the artistic director job and those in favor of incumbent Pierra Detassis, to a clash with the more established Turin Film Festival over dates, to a relative lack of star power and weak ticket sales during the festival itself, to controversies over some of the prizes the festival awarded.

Upcoming elections in Italy are likely to bring more bad news to the festival. In late January, Nicola Zingaretti, the candidate most likely to become the next governor of the local regional government that is a major festival stakeholder, said the event has lost its way and should return to its roots as a popular “party”-type event.

If the Fondazione Cinema per Roma shows it finished last year in the black, it would no doubt strengthen the organization’s hand in negotiating its future with a new crop of political overseers who will be selected in Italy’s Feb. 24-25 elections.