No Fiat for Croff

Italo Senate votes against Biennale topper

ROME — Italian politics have dealt the Venice Intl. Film Festival a new blow, with the Senate voting against the appointment of former banker Davide Croff to head the Venice Biennale, the fest’s parent organization.

Croff’s appointment earlier this month had been welcomed as a turning point in the crisis crippling the Lido.

Despite the vote, Croff is unlikely to ankle, since under Italy’s Byzantine procedures its vote is nonbinding. But it could further delay the Biennale in dealing with the pressing issue of who will head Venice’s next edition.

“The only thing I can do is keep cool and wait,” said Moritz de Hadeln, the fest’s artistic director whose contract expires in March. “I’m working as usual,” he added, making it clear he is hoping to hold on to the job.

Cabinet still to rule

A Biennale spokeswoman said Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani, who picked Croff, had expressed confidence the appointment would clear the final hurdle in the Cabinet next week, despite the unfavorable Senate vote.

That vote was caused by infighting within Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative coalition, which has become especially fierce.

Croff, 56, is a former managing director of mammoth state bank Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and also a one-time exec of automaker Fiat. A native Venetian, he is widely considered a solid replacement for Franco Bernabe, the outgoing Biennale topper, ousted after a protracted power struggle with Urbani.

Both Croff and de Hadeln will attend the Berlin Intl. Film Festival next week.

The only name circulating as a possible successor to de Hadeln is veteran actor Giancarlo Giannini — best known to U.S. audiences for his roles in Lina Wertmuller pics “Swept Away” and “Seven Beauties” — who would operate with the help of an expert assistant.

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