Italian directors back Barbera

Talent press for ex-Venice chief to head RAI

ROME — Italo helmers, including Bernardo Bertolucci, Gabriele Muccino and Gabriele Salvatores, are lobbying for former Venice topper Alberto Barbera to be appointed film czar at pubcaster RAI.

Dozens have signed an open letter to the pubcaster praising the Turin Film Museum topper’s “professional track record, which shows moral integrity, competence and passion for Italian cinema.”

Barbera headed Venice from 1999 to 2001, when he was ousted by the Silvio Berlusconi-led government to the dismay of practically the entire Italian film community.

The letter, the industry’s first attempt to influence the choice of the powerful RAI Cinema post, follows last month’s resignation of Carlo Macchitella. The production/distribution unit’s general director is being investigated for tax fraud concerning content deals at Berlusconi’s Mediaset broadcaster group.

RAI Cinema plays a crucial role in getting Italo pics made, especially when it comes to auteurs such as Gianni Amelio, Emanuele Crialese and the Taviani brothers, in a country where there are few places to raise coin.

The 5-year-old film unit, which holds a roughly 10% market share, invests about $65 million a year in homegrown pics.

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