Japan honors Venice fest topper

Marco Mueller feted for support of Asian films

TOKYO — Venice Film Festival director Marco Mueller was awarded the Japan Foundation’s Arts and Culture Prize on Wednesday at a ceremony in Tokyo.

The Foundation, which supports the international spread of Japanese arts and culture, said in a statement that Muller received the award “in consideration of…his efforts to discover the finest Japanese and Asian films, presenting the richness and diversity of the world of Japanese cinema around the world.”

 Mueller has long been an enthusiastic supporter of Asian cinema as a journalist, scholar, producer and fest director, which includes stints at the Turin, Pesaro, Rotterdam and Locarno fests.

This year, three Japanese pics screened in competition at Venice: Hayao Miyazaki’s “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea,” Mamoru Oshii’s “The Sky Crawlers” and Takeshi Kitano’s “Achilles and the Tortoise.”

 Mueller is the first Italian to be awarded the prize, which was established in 1973.

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