Controversy erupts after Rome museum cancels pic's preem

ROME

A documentary about Italy’s decline during the Silvio Berlusconi era, co-written by former Economist magazine editor Bill Emmott, is sparking controversy locally after Rome’s modern art museum cancelled its Italo preem.

Helmer Annalisa Piras’ “Girlfriend in a Coma” (named after The Smiths’ song), and billed as a wake-up call for Italy, was scheduled for a glitzy gala Feb. 13 at the Museum of 21st Century art (MAXXI) attended by pols, diplomats and journalists.

But the museum cancelled the event on Friday, saying it could not take place during the campaign for Italy’s national elections, due Feb. 24-25, in which Berlusconi is a candidate.

Emmott called the Culture Ministry’s order censorship, describing it as stupidity in a protest tweet.

A museum rep denied the censorship allegation, saying the doc could screen at MAXXI after the election.

Emmott said “Girlfriend,” billed as a “blend of Michael Moore, Adam Smith, and Bunga Bunga (local slang for Berlusconi’s wild parties) with a dash of Dante,” will screen somewhere in Italy before the election.

Pic has already screened at London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts and the Harvard Club in the U.S., among other venues.

The self-produced doc features interviews with anti-Berlusconi helmer Nanni Moretti (“The Caiman”), current premier Mario Monti, authors Umberto Eco and Roberto Saviano, and automaker Fiat chairman Sergio Marchionne.

Emmott, author of the book “Good Italy, Bad Italy,” was Economist editor in 2001, when it ran a cover story on why Berlusconi was unfit to lead Italy.

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