Venice Film Fest selection led to Summit pickup

ROME — Venice Film Festival topper Marco Mueller is beaming about “The Hurt Locker” whose long, convoluted path to scooping six Oscars started on the Lido, “proving that Venice and Toronto can work in tandem” to provide American indies a powerful double launching pad.

Mueller on Tuesday proudly recalled how he selected “Hurt Locker” in April 2008 when it was largely unsold and “also thanks to the success of the Venice presentation” five days after its Venice world preem Summit snapped up the pic from Voltage in Toronto.

“This really proves that no matter how many discussions you are going to have in Italy about revamping the defunct Mifed market, the Venice Film Festival already has a film market, and that market is Toronto,” Mueller said.

“We have managed to strike a balance with our colleagues in Toronto so that we can co-exist constructively and ‘Hurt Locker’ is a perfect example of this,” he added.

Last month in Italy Mueller came under fire from Italo “Locker” distributor Sandro Parenzo, who blasted the fact that after preeming “Locker” in Venice helmer Kathryn Bigelow left the Lido empty-handed before segueing to Toronto.

Mueller dismissed Parenzo’s recent attempt to put Venice on the spot as “a publicity stunt to make some noise prior to the Italian DVD release of the film.”

“The Hurt Locker,” which unspooled at the Lido in 2008, was warmly received after unspooling late in the fest, but lost out to Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” for the Golden Lion that year, and did not take any other official prizes either.

The reason is anyone’s guess, but it must be noted that after delivering the verdict, Wim Wenders, who was Venice jury prexy that year, vowed “I will never be on a jury again.”

Italy is also where “Locker” world-preemed theatrically in October 2008 to a measly $165,000 via Warner Bros – which was acting as a service distribution for Parenzo’s Videa-One.

Despite the fact that “Locker” is already available on DVD in Italy, and has also already aired on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia, Parenzo and Warner Bros. are re-releasing the pic theatrically this weekend on 20 prints in Italy.

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