Gian Luigi Rondi has become the new President of the Rome Film Fest after his candidature was voted unanimously by the fest's board of directors yesterday.

Rondi is stepping in to lead the Fest after Goffredo Bettini, the Rome Fest's former president opted to cede the role as a means to diffuse political pressure on the Fest coming from Rome's newly elected Mayor.

Rondi, who is 86 years old, has held several pivotal roles in Italy's cinema industry. He served both as the artistic director of the Venice Film Festival (1983) as well as president of the Biennale arts organization (1993-1997) while he currently presides over the board of the David of Donatello Awards- which are Italy's highest film honors.

Rondi praised the Rome Fest for its city-oriented appeal and said the first ideas he'll discuss with the Fest's board will focus on the 2009 edition. He expressed interest in creating synergies within Italy's industry (he cited exhibitor, producer, and distributor boards as well as film makers); on reinforcing Rome's Business Street (market event) as well as creating a section dedicated to the art of actors as a means to support Rome's ability to attract A-list talent.

As far as films go, Rondi said, 'I think that Rome's official selection should concentrate on films that are 'spettacolo' (entertaining) but made with quality,' he said, 'and leave the art of cinema to Venice,' referring to Venice's moniker of 'mostra di arte cinematografica' (exhibit of cinematic art).

Mayor Alemanno, who arrived thirty minutes into the presser (which he had called) said Rondi was selected for his 'technical capacity and undisputed authority' in the cinema industry.

The new mayor began stirring troubles with the three-year-old Fest before being voted into office in April, grumbling about the Fest's over-the-top focus on foreign (Hollywood) rather than Italian films.

His comments today were the first official ones to Rome's cinema community and while he took a step sideways from some of his previously harsh comments, he didn't show signs of letting up completely.

'I think there need to be changes, but they should aim at evolution and growth,' he said. Alemanno says he'd like to see a 'close tie' between the David of Donatello Awards and the Rome Film Fest and he too, supports a strengthened market.

As for Rome's red carpet, rather than attacking it, Alemanno now simply said it should be used to promote 'actors not politicians.'

Rome's previous Mayor Walter Veltroni was often seen posing on the red carpet with actors like Tom Cruise and Robert Redford.

Alemanno also said Rome's upcoming (third) edition should aim to organize a national cinema industry convention.

Rome's budget of $26m (Euros 17m) was not discussed - but the city of Rome is one of five public institutions that gives around Euros 1-1.6m each to the Fest's overall budget).

Mayor Alemanno told ScreenDaily after the presser, the city wouldn't be pulling funds from the event for this edition.

'Obviously we will make the titanic effort to guarantee our promises, but it will be difficult,' he said.

The Rome Film Fest runs Oct 22-31.