Festival prexy Gian Luigi Rondi ankles

ROME — Rome Film Festival prexy Gian Luigi Rondi resigned on Friday, paving the way for former Venice topper Marco Mueller to be soon appointed Rome’s new artistic director.

Rondi’s resignation follows a protracted political deadlock over whether Mueller — ousted from Venice in December 2011 in a power struggle after a positive eight-year stint — should take the Rome reins.

Rondi, a 91-year-old film critic, was adamantly against appointing Mueller. He wanted former Rome artistic director Piera Detassis, whose mandate expired in December, to be reupped. However Rondi’s mandate would have exipired in June. In the end, that did not give Rondi enough muscle to push Detassis through.

“I sacrificed myself to save the upcoming edition of the festival, which risked not taking place,” Rondi told journos, after stepping down.

There was no immediate comment from Mueller, whose candidacy was backed by Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno and Lazio Region governor Renata Polverini, who both lean to the right politically.

Part of Rome’s center-left camp instead opposed Mueller. But the fierce battle blurred party lines, with several leftist pols arguing instead that the veteran fest meister, with plenty of international contacts and cachet, had the best credentials.

Mueller’s Rome appointment was also backed by Italy’s motion picture association ANICA.

“It’s time to disarm,” commented ANICA prexy Riccardo Tozzi. “Now politics must step back to let the pros do their jobs.”

The next step is for a new Rome board to be installed, with outgoing Warner Bros. Italia topper Paolo Ferrari tipped as prexy.

Within a couple of weeks, the new board, in turn, is expected to appoint Mueller as artistic topper with a mandate to relaunch and reshape the seven-year-old Eternal City event, now expected to move into a late November slot.

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