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Former Italian Goverment Official Likely to Take Over Ministry of Culture, Sources Say

Veteran political figure Dario Franceschini is the most likely candidate to take over the post with great sway over the country's film industry.

ROME -- Dario Franceschini, a veteran political functionary, who was a minister in the recently deposed Italian government headed by Enrico Letta, is the odds-on favorite to be named Italy's new ministry of culture, according to sources close to the selection process.

Letta was forced out last Friday in favor of 39-year-old Florence mayor Matteo Renzi, who is in the process of selecting a new cabinet of ministers and pulling together enough support in parliament to secure a majority. He is expected to take power on Monday.

The ministry of culture is not considered one of the most powerful ministries in Italy, but it has great influence over the cinema industry in the country. It has a prominent role in determining tax credits and other incentives for film projects, budgeting blocs of funding for the country's main film festivals, promoting Italian films abroad and touting Italy as a destination for film shoots. The minister has also played the role of a mediator in clashes between film festivals in the past.

The outgoing minister of culture is educator, writer and blogger Massimo Bray.

The choice of Franceschini, who had been the minister for parliamentary relations under Letta, for the job is an unusual one. Though he has written three critically praised novels, he is much better known for his political accomplishments than for any ties to the world of cinema, entertainment or culture.

At the same time, appointing such an influential figure to the post -- Franceschini, in addition to his minister post under Letta, was general secretary of the Democratic Party in 2009, the same post Renzi used to springboard himself into the prime minister's job -- could help raise the profile of the ministry, according to sources.

Cinema industry figures declined to speculate on the record about the impact a Franceschini appointment might have, with one veteran producer saying it was best to have a wait-and-see attitude.

"He may end up getting the job, but in Italy things can change quickly," the producer said. "No point going on record to say how he's the perfect choice and then to discover someone else gets appointed."

Twitter: @EricJLyman