New mayor to tone down glitz at Rome film festival

Fri May 2, 2008 12:42pm EDT
 
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ROME (Reuters) - Expect less Hollywood glamour and more home-grown cinema at the Rome film festival -- the new right-wing mayor of Italy's capital has made clear he wants to see changes at the movie showcase created by his predecessor.

Rome's international festival, set up in 2006, was the pet project of Walter Veltroni, the outgoing centre-left mayor beaten by Silvio Berlusconi in last month's parliamentary election.

In its first two editions, the event became a rival for the venerable Venice film festival, rolling out its red carpet for A-list Hollywood stars and directors -- something the new mayor Gianni Alemanno is not so keen on.

"I don't want to cancel the cultural initiatives of the past but I think we need to promote Italian films rather than Hollywood stars," Alemanno said after defeating the centre-left candidate in this week's mayoral runoff.

On Friday he said he had spoken to Goffredo Bettini, Veltroni's right hand man who is in charge of the Rome festival.

"The whole issue of the film festival will be discussed in a constructive manner, no heads will roll," said Alemanno, who campaigned on a law and order ticket, accusing his predecessor of putting the city's cultural image ahead of day-to-day issues.

He added that he was thinking of linking the Rome event to the low-profile David di Donatello Italian movie awards, giving the festival a markedly domestic flavor.

Italian director Pasquale Squitieri, whom Alemanno has indicated is his choice to head the Rome festival, said this week that the 12-million euro event was a waste of money in its present form.

"You can't spend money to pay 18 rooms for Nicole Kidman's bodyguards and another 20 for Leonardo Di Caprio's. That the left did this is truly incredible," Squitieri told the La Stampa newspaper.

"In Italy we have more awards than films. We should support Venice and use the money to help talented actors and set up the necessary facilities," he said.

(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Jon Boyle)