Venice film fest opens amidst war of words


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Film stars gathered for Wednesday's gala opening of the 63rd Venice International Film Festival amidst a torrent of invective between festival organisers and those from a rival event hosted by the city of Rome.

Venice festival director Marco Mueller, clearly irritated by talk of the southern upstart, drew Rome's ire when he suggested that next month's inaugural festival in the capital would merely be offering the public hand-me-downs rejected by Venice and Cannes.

"It has taken nothing from us," snapped Mueller when asked to comment on Rome's affect on this year's Venice festival in an interview with Italian television.

It merely meant that "some films, which neither Cannes nor ourselves wanted and which we were finished viewing at the end of March, have finally found an Italian destination," said Mueller, directing his third Venice festival.

"That's really pleased us because in that way we have avoided acrimony from people we turned down."

Mueller's comments were immediately blasted by Rome festival organisers Giorgio Gosetti and Mario Sesti as "an incredible offence to cinema and to the extraordinary authors who have decided to bring their work to Rome."

They include Martin Scorsese, whose latest film is set to open the Rome festival of film on October 13, according to Italian media reports.

"Over the last few months we have always referred to the Venice Mostra with respect. And we will continue to do so. We reiterate that Venice mustn't fear Rome but only its own mistakes through arrogance and isolation," said the Rome organisers.

Responding to Mueller's glibe, Rome's left-wing mayor Walter Veltroni pointed out that the Eternal City was able to host next month's event without calling for "one lira from the state."

Despite this, Rome boasts the bigger budget, with 12 million euros (15 million dollars) raised entirely from private funds, while Venice relies on state aid for more than half of its 8.5 million euro annual budget.

"In Italy we always live with a terror of things new. There's an instinct for conservatism which is one of the reasons why our country finds it so difficult to compete abroad," said Veltroni, who has repeatedly praised Venice, the world's oldest film festival which is generally believed to have lost some of its traditional lustre in recent years.

The spat, coming just before Brian De Palma's adaptation of James Ellroy's novel "The Black Dahlia" opens the festival on Wednesday night, has put Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli in an awkward position.

He called for an end to the rivalry between the two festivals, saying they "complemented each other" and would serve to relaunch Italy as a capital of world cinema.

But he was forced to admit what has been obvious to everyone since Rome city hall announced last year that there was room for another film festival in Italy. "The problem is the dates, because the festivals have been organised only one month apart."

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1 comment:

RC said...

this is very interesting, i had not yet read about this.

--RC of