Top directors: When at Roma, think globally

Demme, Forman want int'l directors to 'feel at home'

ROME -- Count Milos Forman and Jonathan Demme among those who want the RomaCinemaFest to maintain its international flavor.

It would be "ridiculous to scale back this kind of event," Forman said in an interview in Monday's edition of La Repubblica. Demme, meanwhile, called the Rome event "fantastic," adding that it has quickly become a festival where "international directors, not only American directors, feel at home."

Director Daniele Luchetti echoed the Oscar-winning duo's concerns, saying he did not believe there were enough top-notch Italian films made each year to fill an entirely Italian festival.

During the weekend, Italian newspapers were filled with news of Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno's plans to reshape the Rome festival into a largely Italian event.

Alemanno -- who singled out George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Leonardo DiCaprio as stars who cost more than they were worth to bring to the festival -- sparked headlines that referenced a "Hollywood blacklist" and "An Anti-American in Rome," a play on Alberto Sordi's classic 1950s film "An American in Rome."

Alemanno backtracked a bit Monday, saying that he intended to write a letter to the U.S. ambassador to Italy, explaining that he had no beef with Hollywood stars or films. But there was no indication that he had changed his plans.

One of his reported plans is to combine the October festival with April's David di Donatello awards, Italy's most important film honor, starting in 2009. But it was not immediately clear whether the festival would shift to April or the Donatellos would move to October.

The RomaCinemaFest, meanwhile, said it has received no official word of any changes from Alemanno and that business is proceeding as usual.

"We're still working on our third edition of the festival," Francesca Via, the festival's general director, said in an interview. "The problems everyone keeps talking about are the residue of the recent electoral campaign and are sure to conclude in the next several days."