Rome fest placed in jeopardy

Mueller may walk if November move is blocked

ROME The future of the Rome Film Festival is hanging in the balance more than a month after the appointment of Marco Mueller as artistic director.

Mueller, who still doesn’t have a contract, is pushing for new dates for his ambitious vision of the event. A key Rome fest board meeting scheduled for Monday, that was supposed to thrash out the issue, has been postponed to Thursday.

Sources say if Mueller does not obtain the Nov. 8-Nov. 17 slot he wants, which he believes is crucial to making Rome a launch pad before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, he is likely to resign, and this year’s fest will be scrapped.

Fest would also include a Nov. 13-17 mart. Event would be preceded by an Italian cinema showcase, starting Oct. 19, making for a monthlong cinema celebration.

Mueller and the fest’s politically appointed board are in a deadlock over the dates, due to two issues. One is that the fest’s hub, the Renzo Piano-designed Auditorium Theater is not available in November, although it’s free for the Italian showcase in October. This means the main fest would have to relocate, causing friction with the Auditorium, which oversees the fest.

The other problem is the close proximity with the Turin Film Festival, which will run Nov. 23-Dec. 1. Last month Turin accused Rome of trying to crowd out its dates, prompting Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno to promise the capital’s fest would run in October.

Meanwhile, the former curator of Rome’s cutting-edge Extra section, Mario Sesti, has been recruited to direct the Taormina Film Festival, but still wants to collaborate with Rome, with which he has a contractual bind. There are differing views on whether this should be allowed.

Mueller, who headed Venice for eight years, before being ousted in a power struggle in December, has been trying to tackle the task of reshaping Rome, in the midst of protracted political wrangling in the Eternal City.

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