ROME — Have the Venice and Rome film fests put rancor to rest?

Italo culture czar Francesco Rutelli recently sat down with head honchos from the two high-profile events, which unspool too close for comfort — in September and October respectively — and an agreement has been trumpeted, prompting La Repubblica newspaper to proclaim that the “war of the festivals” is over.

But the pact, inked by Venice Biennale prexy Davide Croff, per Roma foundation topper Goffredo Bettini, Turin fest prexy Davide Rondolino — as well as the mayors of those three cities — does nothing to resolve the date grate at the root of the friction.

“I can’t say I’m satisfied,” Croff says. “It’s obvious that we are still going to be going after the same movies.”

Under the pact, which will see a joint effort to promote Italian pics, the Italo czar urged Venice and Rome to define and differentiate their respective identities “to avoid the risk of overlap and conflict.”

“As far as titles from the majors it won’t be up to us, but to the studios’ marketing strategies,” says Rome artistic co-topper Giorgio Gosetti. “Our identities will be defined by all the other types of films, and I have high hopes that we will be respectful and not try to cannibalize each other’s discoveries.”

The key differences are that Venice is taking the elitist route and showing strictly world preems, and Rome claims to be more populist and has a market. Turin, dedicated to young helmers and edgy fare, has already pushed its dates forward a bit for 2007 to Nov. 24-Dec 2.

Rome, which this year had a pretty good first edition, hasn’t decided its 2007 dates yet. Gosetti says they would likely be pushed forward a tad to Oct. 19-27, though he is worried this slot may clash with the London fest.

Last week the Lido set its dates in the more or less customary Aug. 29-Sept. 8 slot, and also announced a spaghetti western retrospective.

In upcoming months an interesting shootout over movies will be playing out between the two fests.