Baratta returns to Biennale

Marco Mueller will be reappointed artistic director of the Venice Film Festival for four more years, thanks to a move by Italian culture minister Francesco Rutelli that will give the Lido some much-needed continuity.

Calling Mueller’s work “excellent” in a statement issued Friday, Rutelli recommended renewing the Lido chief’s four-year mandate, which expires at the end of 2007.

The Italo culture czar has at the same time replaced outgoing Biennale prexy Davide Croff with economist Paolo Baratta, who had previously served as prexy of the fest’s parent foundation.

Baratta, 68, a former banker and government minister, headed the Biennale between 1998 and 2002.

Rutelli called Baratta the right man to relaunch the Biennale in the statement, which said the government intends to up its investment in the multi-arts org, described as “modern Italy’s main cultural institution, and the most prestigious internationally.” This bodes well for the Venice fest’s finances.

Mueller, of course, praised Rutelli’s choice of Baratta and thanked the minister for “his attention to my work.”

The culture czar’s indication of Baratta, who must formally re-up Mueller, still needs to be approved in parliament, but that is considered a formality.

Once the red tape is cleared, Mueller’s reappointment will mark a rare case of a Venice topper who remains onboard past the standard four-year mandate. Five artistic directors have taken the helm on the Lido over the past 15 years.

Besides its revolving-door directors, the 75-year-old Venice fest’s other structural problem — its out-of-date infrastructure — is also on its way to being solved with plans to start work early next year on futuristic digs to replace its fascist-era Palazzo del Cinema.

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