Rome Film Festival May Bring in Ousted Venice Artistic Director Marco Mueller

Marco Mueller
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

The decision of whether current artistic director Pierra Detassis will remain in Rome will likely be made next week; Paolo Ferrari close to becoming fest's president.

ROME – The International Rome Film Festival appears ready to invite ousted Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller to take over as the festival’s artistic director, the Rome daily Il Messaggero reported Friday, adding that outgoing Warner Bros-Italia chief Paolo Ferrari is likely to become the festival’s president.

Meanwhile, other newspapers reported that Pierra Detassis, Rome’s current artistic director, has no interest in taking the same position at the Turin Film Festival and that she’d like to stay in Rome.

Several newspapers reported that the local and regional government officials who provide the bulk of Rome’s public sector backing remain split on whether to invite Mueller to take over, or to keep Detassis. They also reported that without increased backing, this year’s edition of the festival in Rome is likely to face a €1.35 million ($1.7 million) budget shortfall.

The decision is likely to emerge from a meeting of Rome’s board and founders scheduled to take place next Thursday.

Il Messaggero also reported that to make the artistic director job more attractive to Mueller, the festival would look to expand the reach of the festival in Rome, including the use of the remains of the ancient arena of Circus Maximus to screen films. 

Circus Maximus is a popular outdoor concert venue with crowds of more than 150,000 reported in the past, and even with seating put in place for a film screening it could dwarf the 8,000-seat Piazza Grande cinema that is the centerpiece of the Locarno Film Festival, in Switzerland, as Europe’s largest film venue, though Rome’s October spot on the calendar could man that movie goers there could be forced to deal with chilly temperatures or rain.

The prospect of appointing Ferrari as Rome’s president means the festival’s venerable president, 90-year-old Gian Luigi Rondi, would join Detassis in departing the festival. Rondi, the dean of Italian film critics and the president of the David di Donatello film awards, has said he would like to keep Detassis on as artistic director for another term.

Previously, some reports said that Mueller could sign on in Rome as both artistic director and president, though that has not been mentioned in recent days.

Though it is still only speculation, it is clear that a team of Mueller, who is credited with dramatically raising the Venice festival’s profile during his eight-year tenure, and the widely respected Ferrari, who is set to retire soon after 21 years at the helm of Warner Bros-Italia, could make a powerful team in Rome.