ROME — A burst of animosity toward Quentin Tarantino on the part of Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi is sparking an uproar within Italy’s film community.
The Italo Culture Czar has slammed prizes awarded by the recently wrapped 67th Venice Film Festival, where Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” took the Golden Lion, and blasted Tarantino, who headed the jury, for being a “representative of an elitist, relativistic and snobbish culture.”
Furthermore, Bondi has announced that next year he wants to have some direct say in the fest’s jury makeup.
“Since the funds come from the state, from now on I want to get involved in the selection of jury members at the festival,” he told the newsweekly Panorama on Friday. Panorama is owned by prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi’s Mondadori publishing group.
The Venice fest receives $9 million in funding from the Italian government out of a total $15.5 million budget.
A chorus of protests against the Italo Culture Czar’s attempt to hold sway over the Venice jury has ensued.
“Something like this would have been inconceivable, even under Fascism,” complained Paolo Ferrari, chief of Warner Bros. Italy, and also head of Italy’s Motion Picture Association, ANICA.
“It’s out of line with the practice in all countries with major festivals, where autonomy (from local politicians) is guaranteed,” said Riccardo Tozzi, head of prominent production shingle Cattleya, and also chief of Italy’s producers.
There was no immediate reaction from the Venice Film Festival.
Tarantino had previously come under fire in the Italian press for allegedly putting in the fix for his pals, including Coppola, Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia and Monte Hellman. The Italian press has also made much of the fact that Italy, which had four films in competition, went empty-handed.
Venice topper Marco Mueller has called charges of nepotism waged against Tarantino “an insult to the other jurors,” which include helmers Arnaud Desplechin, Guillermo Arriaga and composer Danny Elfman.