Rome Film Festival in Search for Funding

Fest backer says the festival is around $3.1 million in the red.


ROME – The International Rome Film Festival, fresh off a tumultuous leadership shakeup that resulted in a new president and artistic director, now needs to start looking for cash, according to statements from Renata Polverini, president of the Lazio Region, one of the festival’s main backers.

Polverini, one of the strongest backers of the plan to bring former Warner Bros. Italy head Paolo Ferrari to Rome as the festival’s president and former Venice Film Festival head Marco Mueller as its artistic director, told Italian news agency ANSA Tuesday that the festival’s board had sent a letter to shareholders indicating that the festival was around €2.3 million ($3.1 million) in the red. The letter said the shareholders must confer and figure out how to pay down the debt as the seventh edition of the event approaches.

Polverini said the problem was important, but that it was not big enough to place the future of the festival at risk.

The Rome festival’s debt has been reported before, but the €2.3 million figure in the letter Polverini referred to is the largest yet estimated for event. In March, the festival’s board said the event was €2.1 million ($2.8 million) in debt, and in February, the figure had been estimated at €1.3 million ($1.7 million).

The news leaves the Rome festival is unexpectedly shaky ground perhaps as little as six months before its next edition. Mueller, who told Italian journalists he has started work on the festival even though his salary and terms for his contract have not yet finalized, is still working to push the festival’s dates back to November. But there is not yet a consensus on the issue, and the official dates for the seventh edition remain in October.

Lazio, the Italian region that includes Rome, is one of the three main local government entities that supports the Rome festival economically, along with the Province of Rome and the City of Rome. Combined, they provide around €4 million ($5.3 million) in funding. The Rome Chamber of Commerce is another big backer, but most of the rest of the funds come from private sources and ticket sales.