Roberto Cicutto, the veteran Italian film producer of Ermanno Olmi’s 1988 Venice Golden Lion winner “The Legend of the Holy Drinker” and more recently head of Italy’s Luce-Cinecittà which runs the iconic studios has been appointed president of the Venice Biennale, parent organization of the Venice Film Festival.
Cicutto, 71, a Venice native, will replace Paolo Baratta who presided over the Biennale for 12 years and whose mandate has expired.
Cicutto reps a solid choice to head what Italian Culture Minister Enrico Franceschini described in a statement as “one of the most prestigious Italian cultural institutions.” The Biennale is a foundation and multi-disciplinary entity which besides the venerable Venice fest also runs the internationally renown art, dance, theatre, music, and architecture Biennale events.
The Italian culture minister and Cicutto developed a close rapport during Cicutto’s tenure as chief of Luce Cinecittà, Italy’s state film entity, which comprises Cinecittà Studios. Cicutto in recent years has been instrumental to revamping and relaunching the studios outside Rome after Franceschini de-privatized them, ousting a group of private investors.
Before heading Cinecittà Cicutto was known in the international film world as co-chief of arthouse distribution and production company Mikado Film which co-financed and locally released a slew of titles by directors such as Zhang Yimou, Abbas Kiarostami, Wim Wenders, Derek Jarman and Jane Campion.
Cicutto prevailed over a roster of other candidates for the Biennale job, none of whom had his credentials in terms of having both cultural pedigree and management skills.
Cicutto’s first big task as Biennale boss will be to address the issue of leadership of the Venice fest since its current artistic director Alberto Barbera’s mandate formally expires after this year’s edition.
It is possible, though not by any means certain, that Cicutto will extend Barbera’s mandate. If not, it will be interesting to see if he picks a woman to lead the fest which has come under criticism for scarce representation of female filmmakers.
The 77th edition of Venice will run Sept. 2-12.