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Marco Mueller, former head of the Rome, Venice and Locarno festivals, has picked a multi-national selection team to support him in his new role at the Beijing International Film Festival.

Mueller was appointed last month as general advisor to the BJIFF, after he parted from the Rome festival which he had led for three years.

The selection team goes some way to suggesting that the festival, now in its fifth year, may gain some credibility as an artistic venture. Previous editions of the festival, which is backed by the Beijing municipal authorities, have focussed more on headline events, red carpet parades and attracting international celebrity guests.

Given China’s strict censorship regime, it remains unclear, however, how much freedom the selectors will be given to pick films with controversial or politically-difficult subject matter, or those which give art-house treatment to sex and sexuality.

Mueller’s selection team is headed by Chen Zhiheng, a film director and the festival’s general secretary for external affairs. It also includes: consultant Alena Shumakova; curator Marie-Pierre Duhamel; Indian festival selector Deepti D’Cunha; Venice selector Paolo Bertolin; Latin American film critic Diego Lerer; critic and festival organizer Joumane Chahine; producer and distributor Martin Marquet; Japan’s Tomita Mikiko; and Iranian actor and editor Babak Karimi.

“Relying on their rich experience in organizing international events, the team will look at potential co-production projects and seek opportunities and resources that the Beijing festival can make use of for cooperation and organization of special events,” the festival said in a statement.

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