If you didn't know anything about the film festivals of Italy, you'd assume the one in Rome was revered and honored. I mean, come on -- it's Rome! At one point the capital city of the entire civilized world! All roads used to lead to it! Of course the Rome Film Festival is beloved and admired!

But since you do know a thing or two about the film festivals of Italy, you know it's more complicated than that. First there was the Venice Film Festival, launched in 1932, the oldest in the world. Then there's the Turin fest, also no spring chicken, having debuted in 1983.

Then there's Rome. First year of the Rome Film Festival? 2006. What time of year? October -- right in between Venice and Turin. That's not to mention the fact that there were already some major fests internationally in the fall, including Toronto and San Sebastian. In some quarters -- especially Venice -- people were kinda irritated that some johnny-come-lately was trying to horn in on the "prestigious film festival" scene.

Those feelings were revived again on Wednesday when Turin's new head, Nanni Moretti, announced this year's lineup, and used the opportunity to take a swipe at Rome.

"Rome's choice of dates -- roughly one month after Venice, and one month before us -- is simply something that we cannot pretend never happened," he said at a press conference, as reported by Variety. (I note with some interest that the press conference was held at a theater Moretti owns -- in Rome.)

The Hollywood Reporter adds this quote: "I am not looking for problems, but I am looking at the calendar, and when Rome picks a date that's one month after Venice and one month before Turin it means they want a competition."

Moretti said he's pleased with the lineup for the 25th Turin Film Festival, which runs Nov. 23-Dec. 1 -- but he added that there were some films he wanted but couldn't get because Rome had snatched them up, including Juno.

Wait, it gets better! On Friday, Rome's co-director, Mario Sesti, responded to Moretti's jab: "I'm sorry that Moretti has been limited to attacking the RomaCinemaFest as a way to attract more visibility." (That's from the above-linked Hollywood Reporter article.)

Rome patched things up with Venice by moving its start date back a few days this year, to grant more breathing room between the two fests. But now it looks like its battles with Turin are just starting. Is there enough room in Italy for another high-profile, high-glitz film festival? Does a 25-year-old fest like Turin really have that much to worry about from a 2-year-old upstart? I don't know, but I'm enjoying the argument anyway.
categories Cinematical