Rome Film Festival reduces 2008 budget

Drops about 12% compared with last year's edition

ROME -- The Rome Film Festival's budget this year will tip the scales at 15.5 million euros ($22 million), sources close to the festival said Thursday, meaning that after months of debate about the festival's future its budget dipped about 12% compared with last year's bankroll.

In 2007, the festival spent 17.6 million euros ($25 million) on a star-studded event attended by Cate Blanchett, Francis Ford Coppola, Tom Cruise, Sophia Loren and Robert Redford. But this year's budget still tops the 12.5 million euros ($17.8 million) the three-year-old fest spent for its successful inaugural edition in 2006.

The festival's future was cast in doubt earlier in the year when a new mayor was elected in Rome, after running on a platform promising less spending on high-profile events such as the film festival and more on city infrastructure. But in the end, the city's contribution to the festival remained unchanged compared to last year: 1 million euros  ($1.4 million).

There's no word yet on how the lower budget will affect this year's festival. At least one big-name star -- Al Pacino, who will receive a career prize -- has agreed to attend the Oct. 22-31 event, and though the full lineup won't be announced until Oct. 1, organizers say there will be a full slate of high-profile world and European premieres.