De Hadeln on hold as politicos wrangle

ROME — Moritz de Hadeln’s reappointment at the Venice Intl. Film Festival’s helm has been put on hold until next year due to a combination of bureaucracy and bickering that leaves him hanging in the balance.

Venice Biennale topper Franco Bernabe has canceled Monday’s board meeting of the parent organization at which de Hadeln’s contract for the 61st fest in 2004 was to be renewed.

The delay is partly caused by red tape. Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani, who opposes de Hadeln’s reappointment, has been trying to undermine the foundation’s autonomy by reconfiguring the statute concerning it.

However, Parliament has rejected his plan to force Venice to link up with state-controlled orgs Cinecitta and the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia film school, which would have held sway over the fest’s lineup and jury.

Parliament still must approve a new statute for the arts foundation that has not reached the final stages of voting.

This delay has forced the Biennale to reschedule its board meeting for January — and de Hadeln’s post cannot be confirmed until then.

But it is still possible for Urbani to give de Hadeln the boot.

On Urbani’s desk is a Venice fest overhaul plan drafted by de Hadeln earlier this month. If the minister rejects the plan, which includes a request for more resources and improved infrastructure, the Biennale board could be forced not to reappoint him.

Urbani’s moves to unseat de Hadeln follow controversy after the last fest, when the Golden Lion was awarded to first-time Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “The Return.” Veteran Italian helmer Marco Bellocchio’s “Good Morning, Night,” which had been considered a top contender, was given a more marginal individual contribution prize for its screenplay.

Last weekend, a group of former Venice toppers and other onetime artistic managers within the Biennale rallied in Bernabe’s defense against Urbani.

The Swiss-born de Hadeln, who is the Venice Film Fest’s first non-Italian director, became Venice chief in 2002.

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