Theinaugural Rome Film Festival (Oct 13-21) is looking to set up aco-production event along the lines of Rotterdam's CineMart which will includea cash prize for the best project presented.

"TheCineMart structure is so far the best one," explained Rome's internationalprogramme manager Teresa Cavina on the decision to emulate Rotterdam's popularpitching bazaar.

Rome'sindustry office is already actively courting buyers and sellers. At least 300 industryprofessionals will be invited to the event, and Cavina said there will beindustry screenings.

Sheemphasised, however, that Rome is not looking to set up an autumn market to rivalthe AFM or replace Mifed. "We had a few requests to take over the heritage ofMIFED, but we don't think there is the need for a market."

Cavinaremains confident that she will be able to secure strong titles despite thecompetition of other autumn festivals.

Films that have shown in a single festival outside Europe (for example, in Toronto or at an Asian event) willstill be eligible for Rome's 14-feature competition.

Thewinner of the competition will receive one of the most generous cash prizes onthe festival circuit, $240,000 (200,000Euros), to be split between the director and the main producer.

Theprize will be decided by a jury headed by revered Italian auteur Ettore Scolaand 50 film enthusiasts plucked from the public.

Cavinais a former colleague of Venice artistic director Marco Muller when both wereworking in Locarno. She denies Rome poses any sort of threat to Venice.

"I seeRome as a further opportunity for cinema. I think we can open bigger horizons."That's why I don't feel the clash between Rome and Venice...we will be a bigmetropolitan festival and Venice will stay the queen of the festivals."

Thenew festival has a budget of between $9m and $10m. This comprises publicmoney from the city and regional bodies as well as fund from banks andsponsors.

Rome's mayor Walter Veltroni has been the moving forcebehind the birth of the new event.

"He is the father of the festival," Cavinasaid of Veltroni, who is president of the Honorary Committee of the Festival.