Mueller remains in Venice director chair

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ROME -- Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller was officially reappointed for a second four-year term Wednesday, giving the film festival unusual continuity in that role during what is sure to be a challenging period.

Italian Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli said in November that Mueller would be asked to stay on, but the 54-year-old veteran festival director's appointment did not become official until Wednesday, when the board of the Venice Biennale approved his retention.

Venice has had unprecedented success in the past two years under Mueller, with star-studded red carpet and competition lineups made up entirely of world premiere films in each of the last two editions.

But the coming years could prove unusually difficult for the festival, as it operates around the construction of a new Palazzo del Cinema -- something Mueller lobbied for since he first came to Venice in 2004 -- and deals with a festival calendar that will see it operating closer than ever to the three-year-old RomaCinemaFest in the Italian capital.

Because of a scheduling conflict at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome moved its start date up 16 days this year, to Oct. 2 -- less than four weeks after the close of the Aug. 27-Sept. 6 Venice event.

Mueller also will work with a new president of the Biennale. Paolo Baratta, a former lawmaker and banker who served as Biennale president from 1998-2002, was named to replace Davide Croff in November. Croff had held the post during all four years of Mueller's previous mandate.

Before Mueller came to Venice, the festival had a near-revolving door in the artistic director role, with five different directors in 16 years.

With the approval of the new mandate, Mueller will stay as artistic director for a total of eight years, through the end of 2011 -- meaning he will see the completion of the Palazzo del Cinema project.
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