Rome Film Festival budget slashed

Funds cut from $24 million to $15 million

The Rome Film Festival’s budget is being slashed from this year’s $24 million to a maximum of $15 million, rekindling questions about the future size and scope of the Eternal City extravaganza.

Citing the global economic crisis, a board meeting attended by Rome’s conservative mayor, Gianni Alemanno, on Wednesday deliberated the drastic cut, while confirming that the fest will run in 2009.

The event, launched in 2006 by Rome’s then-Mayor Walter Veltroni, has been captive to political turmoil ever since the left-wing Veltroni stepped down in May when Silvio Berlusconi won national elections and Alemanno gained power in the Italian capital.

That’s why the economic crunch isn’t the only crucial factor in determining Rome’s reconfiguration. Though the fest draws 70% of its funding from corporate sponsors, everything in Italy, including corporate funding, is political.

However, Rome’s budget for its fourth edition is only slightly less than the $16 million that the Venice Film Festival had at its disposal this year.

Meanwhile, Rome has other pressing issues to resolve. Giorgio Gosetti and Teresa Cavina — co-directors of its Cinema 2008 section, which made up most of the competition lineup of the fest — ankled after the October edition due to differences with fest prexy Gianluigi Rondi, who was installed in June.

Gosetti also headed Rome’s informal Business Street mart, while Cavina was chief of its New Cinema Network co-production mart.

Other European fests including Spain’s San Sebastian and Holland’s CineKid have issued public warnings that the looming threat of budget cuts could put them out of business.

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