Topper to boost international profile

ROME – Marco Mueller has been appointed artistic director of the Rome Film Festival, with a mandate to boost the budding Eternal City Extravaganza, ending protracted political wrangling over the former Venice topper’s post-Lido move.

Mueller, ousted from Venice in December in a power struggle after eight years on the Lido, will now tackle the challenge of reshaping the ambitious Rome event, located in Italy’s historic film industry hub.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Mueller commented. “I am returning to my hometown after 22 years, to work on an exciting project: the new development — after what’s been done in the first six years — of a festival that wants to cater to the needs of those who make movies, who show movies, and of those who watch them.”

As for details of his Rome revamp, Mueller said it’s too early to divulge specifics. But he added that possible date and venue changes “are urgent points I need to discuss with president and board.”

With reference to dates, Mueller specified he’d like to position the fest in the third week in November, to make it a launching pad for the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. and turn Rome into “one of the major events in the third quarter.”

But on this thorny issue Mueller also indicated his flexibility and willingness to “respond to what Rome wants, and what Rome has to offer.”

Earlier this month Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno said the fest will run Oct. 18-26 this year, after a brouhaha broke out when the Turin Film Festival accused Rome of trying to crowd its November dates. Turin will run Nov. 23-Dec. 1.

The Rome mart will also be boosted as part of the overhaul.

Mueller’s appointment comes after a protracted political struggle, which blurred party lines and ended, earlier this month, with the appointment of outgoing Warner Bros. Italy topper Paolo Ferrari earlier month as Rome fest prexy.

Ferrari replaced veteran critic Gian Luigi Rondi, who had been adamant on wanting to reup former Rome artistic topper Piera Detassis, or in any event on opposing Mueller.

Ferrari in a statement praised Mueller as “an extraordinary professional, highly esteemed both in Italy and abroad.”

Ferrari and Mueller will soon embark on an international tour that will include stops in Los Angeles and New York.

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