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Rome Film Festival Delays Decision on Next Artistic Director Until Next Week

Marco Mueller
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Marco Mueller

The Italian media noted that former Venice Film Festival director Marco Mueller still remains the top choice for the post.

ROME – The decision over who will be the next artistic director of the International Rome Film Festival will be delayed until next week, officials close to the selection process told The Hollywood Reporter, though the Italian media has said former Venice director Marco Mueller still appears to be the festival’s top choice.

The decision was originally supposed to be made Thursday, after the assembly of shareholders in the festival. But it now appears the announcement will be made after a specially-called meeting of the foundation that oversees the Rome festival, which is tentatively scheduled to take place Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Most Italian media continues to report that Mueller is likely to be invited to replace magazine editor Pierra Detassis as artistic director, though so far there is no on-the-record comment from the Rome-born Mueller about whether or not he is interested in taking the job.

Mueller was ousted as artistic director in Venice after two highly successful four-year mandates at the festival’s helm. His mandate, which expired Dec. 31, was not renewed, as the festival opted Dec. 27 appointed Alberto Barbera, the head of the Italian film archives and a former Venice artistic director to the job, apparently in hopes of developing a Cannes-style market on the Venice Lido. Italian newspapers reported that Mueller got the short end of the stick in a power struggle with Paolo Baratta, Venice’s president.

Speculation is that Mueller’s appointment would rekindle the rivalry between the Rome festival, which was launched in 2006, and the 69-year-old Venice event, the world’s oldest film festival.

Even though the decision on Rome’s artistic director was delayed, information that leaked out ahead of Thursday’s assembly made it clear Mueller’s possible candidacy does not enjoy blanket support among shareholders. Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno, who ran for office in 2008 campaigning against the film festival but who has since become a supporter, says he backs Mueller for the artistic director job, as do most regional governmental entities that support the event. But the Rome Chamber of Commerce indicated Thursday that it preferred Detassis keep the job, and Gian Luigi Rondi, the festival’s president, is also on record as supporting a new term for Detassis.

Some Italian media speculate that the delay in the decision making was needed in order to cobble together a consensus among the festival's stakeholders, while others speculated it was because extra time was needed to convince Mueller to take the job.

If Mueller is indeed appointed, it is likely that the 90-year-old Rondi, a noted film critic who doubles as the director of Italy’s David di Donatello film awards, would be removed as president as well, to be replaced either by Mueller in a dual role or by Paolo Ferrari, the outgoing head of Warner Bros.-Italia.