As the Rome Film Festprepares to wrap its first edition on Saturday, the fears that it could not co-exist with Venice seem to have dissipated. .

Although, of course, there remainsthe contentious issue of Rome's datesto be settled. Gaettano Blandini, General Director of Cinema at Italy's Culture Ministry told the two festivals should meet "as soon aspossible to find a date not so close to each other."

Despite this, Blandini continued,"It seems to me the two festivals have different DNA. I don't see a frenetic competition."

Considering the busy autumnschedule, industry experts seem mostly unconcerned about the Rome-Venicerivalry. "We take both festivals differently. In Venice, we concentrate on different things than we do in Rome," Celluloid Dreams international salesrepresentative Tanja Meissner told

"Apart from the Pusan collision, the date is pretty convenient," shecontinued, referring to Rome Film Fest and its "business street" overlappingwith the key Korean event. "It's a good opportunity to prepare AFM andsome of the buyers from overseas thought it was ideal to connect Mipcom (the TVmarket which ended Oct 12 in Cannes) with Rome."

Meissner noted that CelluloidDreams received significant feedback for new titles in Rome, striking sales forU to Greece and Switzerland, My Sonto Switzerland and Spain, The MagicFlute to Scandinavia and Spain, Persepolisto Italy and Poland, and Savage Graceto Mexico.

But Medusa CEO GiampaoloLetta expressed more reserve regarding the future of Rome business street: "Wedon't know," he said when queried about the market's durability."This is the first step- it will take three or four years to see."

The Venice-Rome differenceswere clear: Marco Mueller hosted 21 world premieres inthe Venice competition whereas ten out of 16 of Rome's competition titles were screened in Toronto in September. Rome has a popular jury, and Venice a jury of industry insiders.

To Rome's credit, the festival lured plenty of stars likeNicole Kidman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Viggo Mortensen, RichardGere, Harrison Ford and Monica Bellucci - attracting locals and press to the galaevents.

Some called LasseHallstrom's Rome premiere TheHoax the director's best US film yet and actor Richard Gere's performance wasroundly applauded.

In competition, Italianfirst-time director Alessandro Angelini's prison-based drama L'aria Salata was also drawing attention.

As withany new event, Rome Film Fest began with expected organisational issues when 500journalists showed up for press screenings at city cinemas equipped with 150seats. The festival addedscreenings in the main venue's larger screening rooms.

In line with keeping Romansat the heart of the festival, all extra events were cancelled Tuesday when a Rome subway crash took the life of one young woman andleft 200 injured.

The festival's lucrativeawards will be announced Saturday.