Fests to be less than a month apart

ROME — The notoriously narrow time gap between the Rome and Venice film festivals is getting tighter.

Rome is abandoning its customary mid-October start in favor of a Oct. 2 kickoff for its 2008 edition, in a move expected to re-ignite tensions between Italy’s two high-profile events.

Ever since Rome burst on the international fest scene in 2006 with deep pockets and big ambitions, the Eternal City extravaganza — which ran Oct. 18-27 this year — has been blamed by Venice for butting in by positioning itself just over one month after curtains at the Lido, which in 2007 ran Aug. 29-Sept. 8.

Now Rome has announced that its 2008 third edition will run Oct. 2-12, due to contingencies related to the classical music season at the fest’s Auditorium Parco Della Musica venue. While Venice has yet to announce its 2008 dates, the two will now take place less than one month apart, which has set off alarm bells anew at the Lido.

New Venice Biennale topper Paolo Baratta has reportedly fired off a peeved missive to Rome fest officials asking for clarifications. In early 2008 Baratta is expected to re-up fest topper Marco Muller’s mandate for four additional years, which would boost the Lido’s international standing.

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