In an interview on Italian television, 63rd Venice festival director Marco Mueller explained, in reference to the Rome festival which will follow it next month:
"It [Rome] has taken nothing from us. 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. That's really pleased us because in that way we have avoided acrimony from people we turned down. Rome can have them."
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. 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."
Rome’s festival includes Martin Scorsese, whose latest film is set to open the Rome festival of film on October 13, according to Italian media reports. Rome's mayor Walter Veltroni also pointed out that the Eternal City was able to host next month's event without calling for "one lira from the state".
"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.
The dispute, coming just before Brian De Palma's adaptation of James Elroy's novel The Black Dahlia opens the festival tomorrow night, has put Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli in an awkward position and has called for an end to the rivalry between the two festivals, saying they "complemented each other."
Personally, it seems to me that the fault is all on Venice’s side, which knows its festival has lost some of the limelight over recent years. Mueller’s comments perhaps reflect his Sud-Tyrol origin.
AFP and the Age