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Marco Mueller Likely to Continue as Artistic Director of Venice Film Festival

Marco Mueller
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Mueller had been running the fest for the past eight years.

ROME – Italian news sites reported Monday that Marco Mueller, who has been the artistic director at the Venice Film Festival for the last eight years, would be reappointed to his position for another four-year mandate.
 
Venice officials warned the re-appointment of the highly regarded Mueller was not official, and that it stemmed from comments from the newly nominated president of the Venice Biennale Giulio Malgara, who told the Milan daily Corriere della Sera over the weekend, “I think Marco Mueller will continue to be a part of our team.”

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But the appointment of Malgara, currently the head of television ratings company Auditel and the former president of Quaker Oats-Europe, is not a sure thing. Minister of Culture Giancarlo Galan has officially nominated Malgara to replace outgoing president Paolo Baratta, but his appointment will not be official until it is approved by parliament. Indications are that lawmakers are likely to give Malgara the thumbs up, but that could all change if the government collapses before the vote -- a possibility given Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s shaky grip on power.
 
The mandates for both Baratta and Mueller expire at the end of the year.

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The notion of Malgara taking over the film festival’s parent organization is not universally applauded. Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni has attacked the nomination as politically motivating, claiming Malgara is “inadequate” to the position, and arguing that Baratta should be re-appointed. Other groups charged that Malgara’s appointment was made because of his close ties to Berlusconi.
 
All that said, a vote of support from Malgara probably means Mueller’s re-appointment more likely than it was before the remarks were made. An unprecedented third mandate for Mueller would give the world’s oldest film festival an unusual longevity at its helm and could help continue an amazing streak that has seen the festival’s main competition to be made up entirely of world premieres in four of the last five years without sacrificing the glitz and glamour it is known for.

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And Malgara, who has also worked as a state bureaucrat, is not without his backers: the Italian media has speculated that his business background could help attract new sponsors to the Biennale, and his ties to the government could assure that event continues to receive government support after a series of clashes in recent years.