Move may break political deadlock

ROME — Former Venice Film Festival topper Marco Mueller is being backed by Italy’s motion picture association ANICA to head the Rome Film Festival, in a significant move that aims to break a protracted political deadlock over his appointment.

Mueller has been in the running for the Rome post since December 2011 when his Lido contract was not renewed, after an excellent eight-year stint, due to a power clash with Venice Biennale prexy Paolo Baratta.

Mueller is considered by many in the Italo industry the best candidate to redefine the six-year-old Eternal City Extravaganza, and turn it into an industry asset complementary to — rather than in competition with — Venice.

But Mueller has run into complicated bi-partisan political crossfire, and also firm opposition from current Rome prexy Gian Luigi Rondi, whose mandate expires in June. Rondi, a 91-year-old film critic and eminence grise, wants former Rome artistic director Piera Detassis to remain on board. The impasse, reached in several meetings, has been going on for weeks.

In a statement, ANICA said it was “worried” about the Rome fest’s current “extreme precariousness,” which at this point undermines its existence, it said.

“The only fair solution left, even though it is being reached in the worse possible way, is for Marco Mueller to be appointed artistic director,” ANICA said.

The country’s main film industry urged the fest’s board members to show “sense of responsibility” in supporting Mueller and vowed to guarantee his political “autonomy.”

It is not clear when a decision might be reached. Mueller, meanwhile, is at the Berlin Film Festival.

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