Admissions dropped this year by 50,000:
Rome Film Festival ended Sunday night after its rebranding as a celebration of cinema, focusing on audience awards that put the spotlight on the public, a concept modeled after Toronto. The idea was to influence distributors by using the Roman public as a testing ground for greater Europe.
The festival had many wins, including gala appearances from Benicio Del Toro, Richard Gere and Kevin Costner. Business Street, the festival’s market, had a 30 percent increase in the number of international participants, a 35 percent increase in buyers, and a 14 percent increase in world sales agents, with many key industry players being flown in for the occasion.
But there were also many misses, such as a 20-minute Zegna commercial being billed as a Park Chan-Wook short film. Or the fact that talent from many of the top-billed films such as Gone Girl, Still Alice, and Nightcrawler failed to appear at all.
The public voting system relied on audience turnout, but the numbers didn’t turn out as expected. With 80,000 admissions this year, the final numbers were greatly reduced from last year’s 130,000. Director Marco Mueller has not had an easy job over the last three years he’s run the festival. Each year he’s been given different orders for how to resolve the fledging festival, often forcing him to scramble at the last minute to put together a standout lineup. His contract is up and he’s not coming back.
“The Rome Film Festival has been an experience that I can only consider over, since my contract was for three years. I did my best each time to try to adapt to the directions I received,” said Mueller at the festival close. “I learned a lot in these three years.”
The festival veteran says he’s going to take what he’s learned over the years and focus more on his academic career. Mueller has been a Professor holding the Chair of Film Styles and Techniques at Mario Botta’s Academy of Architecture (University of Italian Switzerland) for the past twelve years. His classes have focused mainly on production design.
The fate of next year’s Rome Film Festival remains to be seen. There has been some talk of combining the festival with Roma Fiction Fest, the city’s fall celebration of new international TV.