Fest upgrades informal market structure

BERLIN — In case anyone had any doubts, Mifed is dead and buried.

Contrary to plans announced at Mifed in October, Venice Film Festival chief Marco Muller has declared that the Milan film mart will not be held in tandem with the fest.

Venice is upgrading its informal market structure — the Venice Industry Office — in collaboration with former Mifed chief Carlo Bassi.

Starting this year, the Venice Industry Office will offer booth space in the Lido Casino to European umbrella orgs such as Unifrance. The Lido will also be equipped with a few screening rooms for European titles that may or may not also be unspooling in the fest.

But, said Muller, “the Mifed name is dead.”

On the fest front, Muller said Venice, which runs Aug. 31-Sept. 10, will be better organized and slimmer this year, with only three sections: Competition, out of Competition and Venice Horizons, with no more than 60 pics.

While Venice’s Hollywood-heavy Midnight section has been scrapped, Muller said there will still be a half-dozen “adrenaline-filled” studio pics screening at midnight. They will not be on the same night as other gala events.

“I promised (Miramax boss) Harvey (Weinstein) that never in my life will I again have two star-filled galas in the same evening,” the Venice chief vowed. He was referring to last year’s disorganized wee-hour “Finding Neverland” preem, after which Weinstein threatened to put Muller in “cement shoes.”

Muller has also introduced two new Venice prizes: the Horizons nod for feature-length docus and kudos for digitally shot feature films will cover such pics in all sections.

Muller was in Berlin wearing two hats: chief of the Venice fest and producer of Russian helmer Aleksandr Sokurov’s “The Sun,” a portrayal of Japan’s late Emperor Hirohito, which unspools in competition on Thursday.

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