Rome fest caught up in mayoral race

Alemanno would replace Bettini with Squitieri

The winds of war are blowing over Rome.

The leadup to the April 27-28 mayoral runoff race pitting outgoing center-left Culture Czar Francesco Rutelli vs. right-winger Gianni Alemanno has been bloody, with the Rome Film Festival caught up in the conflict.

Rutelli is hoping to replace Walter Veltroni, the cinephile pol who as mayor launched the fest, and who recently lost to Silvio Berlusconi for premier.

If Rutelli wins, the deep-pocketed Rome fest should stay in pretty good shape. Not so if Alemanno wins.

Alemanno, who has Berlusconi’s backing, says his first move as mayor would be to replace Rome Film Festival president Goffredo Bettini, a close Veltroni collaborator, with rightwing helmer Pasquale Squitieri.

Squitieri, for his part, has called the Rome fest “useless.”

“It makes no sense to have a superexpensive film fest in Rome just to celebrate Hollywood movies that certainly don’t need another red carpet,” Squitieri, who is Claudia Cardinale‘s husband, ranted during a recent Alemanno rally.

Even if Alemanno is victorious, it’s not sure he would be able to immediately bump off Bettini, since the Rome Film Festival is not directly controlled by the city.

Still, it’s likely that the fest’s current $24 million budget would start shrinking.

Rome fest officials, prepping for the Oct. 21-31 confab, are laying low.

“We are staying out of the political fray and quietly working to prepare our third edition,” a Rome fest rep tells Variety.

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