ROME – The International Rome Film Festival finally released its ticket price scheme Wednesday, officially putting to an end several days of speculation in the Italian media based on reports that ticket prices would be dramatically higher than in previous years.
In the end, the ticket prices for the Nov. 9-17 festival will rise only slightly compared to 2011, with the biggest increase coming from the price of world premiere screenings in the festival’s main Sala Sinopoli venue, where the most expensive seats will cost 20 percent more than a year ago, at €30 ($38).
That is much less expensive than the range of €30 and €60 ($38-$76) per ticket reported in the local press in the days leading up to the announcement.
The speculation about higher ticket prices -- and the controversy it sparked -- is the latest in a series of critical media stories about the seven-year-old festival connected to the contentious changeover to former Warner Bros-Italia head Paolo Ferrari, now festival president, and Marco Mueller, now artistic director after eight years with the same position at the Venice Film Festival. Ferrari and Mueller replaced Gian Luigi Rondi and Piera Detassis, respectively.
But unlike some previous stories, the issue of ticket prices had unusual traction -- in part because Rome is in the grips of a two-year-old economic crisis. Most of the criticisms blamed the likelihood higher ticket prices on Mueller, who was earlier connected to exorbitant salary demands while negotiating his contract (the agreed-to terms will pay him the same figure Detassis earned).
Enzo Foschi, a regional government official, said the reports of higher ticket prices were “a slap in the face” to Roman families weathering the economic crisis.
“The film festival was created to bring the young people and families of Rome together to learn about film,” Foschi said. “But with Mueller and his desire to make things bigger and bigger, it risks becoming an event of hyperbolic proportions that can be afforded only by the wealthy.”
Paolo Masini, another regional government official, agreed: “Under Mueller the event becomes an exclusive club for VIPs,” he said.
But the festival had not yet finalized its ticket prices when the Italian media reports began to circulate. Once the controversy surrounding the speculation began to swirl, however, festival officials acted quickly to decide on a ticket pricing plan. The announcement was delayed at least once before Wednesday’s release.
Tickets for the Sala Sinopoli world premiere screenings will cost between €20 ($25) and €30 ($38) each, compared to €20 to €25 ($32) a year ago. Most other tickets will cost between €5 ($6) and €15 ($19), with discounts available for Italian university students and members of registered film associations, including discounts of 25 percent to 50 percent on the €60 ($76) festival badge, which gives the holder limited access to screenings during the entire festival.
Ticket packages that include the world premieres in the Sala Sinopoli and Sala Petrassi will be available at between €250 ($315) and €500 (€630), the same price range reported in the newspaper stories.
Mueller has promised that the event will feature 60 world premieres, but little is known so far about the festival’s lineup, juries, or movie star invitees.
So far the only official announcement has been that the Perspectives Italy sidebar for Italian films will open with Carlo!, a documentary about Italian comic actor Carlo Verdone, and that Italian screenwriter and director Francesco Bruni will head that sidebar’s jury. The festival is expected to announce its full lineup Oct. 10.