Rome Film Festival Director Decision Delayed by Snowstorm

Marco Mueller
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

It is the third time a vote on the contentious question has been delayed.


ROME – With the Italian capital crippled by its biggest snowstorm in a generation, the meeting that was scheduled to take place to decide on the festival’s next artistic director has been delayed yet again.

Some eight inches of snow fell on Rome Friday and Saturday, blocking streets, closing offices, causing trees to collapse, and making cross-city travel difficult.

As of Monday, much of the snow remained on the ground, and though most large streets had been cleared, freezing temperatures have coated many avenues with ice and travel remains precarious. Schools and government offices are expected to re-open Tuesday.

It is the third time a vote on the contentious question has been delayed.

The meeting of the board of the foundation that oversees the festival was expected to decide the question on whether former Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller would be tapped to fill the same post in Rome, if Piera Detassis, the incumbent, would keep her job, or if, perhaps, a compromise candidate or temporary solution might arise.

In recent days, though, voting preferences of the major players in the debate have emerged in the Italian press, with the City of Rome and the region of Lazio reported to both be leaning toward Mueller, and the province of Rome and the Chamber of Commerce both reported to be in favor of retaining Detassis. There are moves to declare that the two remaining votes, from the foundation itself and from Gian Luigi Rondi, the festival’s president, should be forced to abstain since they do not support the festival financially.

Making things even more complicated is the festival’s €1.3 million ($1.7 million) budget shortfall from last year’s event, and the fact that most of the festival’s financial backers with a vote on the artistic director have threatened to pull their economic support for the festival if they do not get their way. All of the entities with a vote contribute at least €1 million ($1.3 million) to Rome’s budget.

If some indeed pull their support, the 2012 edition of the festival could be financially crippled no matter if Mueller or Detassis is selected as artistic director. Some Italian media are reporting that that raises the possibility that a dark-horse candidate could emerge once debate on the topic begins.

Among the names mentioned as possible compromise candidates are Giorgio Gosetti, best known as the founder of the Venice Days sidebar and a founding director of the Rome festival, and Felice Laudadio, who preceded Mueller as Venice’s artistic director and also had a stint running the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

The Cinema Foundation for Rome, the oversight organization, has not set an alternative date for the cancelled meetings.