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Venice Film Festival Artistic Director Marco Mueller's Future Still Unclear Just Days Before His Term Ends

Mark Muller Venice Film Festival - P 2011
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Speculation swirls that he could leave Venice and take over the reins at the Rome or St. Petersburg festivals.

ROME -- With the end of his mandate just days away, the future of Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller remains unclear.

Officially, Mueller, Venice’s highly successful artistic director for the past eight years, remains at the festival’s helm until Dec. 31. And it is possible he will stay in Venice for another four-year mandate. But when Mueller was re-upped four years ago, it was done around seven weeks before the end of his term.

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Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl that Mueller could move south and take over the reins at the 6-year-old Rome International Film Festival. And Italian newspapers reported Tuesday that Mueller could leave Venice for the October festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Venice officials say there is no official word on Mueller’s fate, and Mueller has declined to comment on his intentions.

Making things more complicated is the fact that Paolo Baratta, the president of the Venice Biennale, the foundation that oversees the film festival, was re-upped for another four-year mandate last week. But Minister of Culture Lorenzo Ornaghi, who told parliament he wanted to retain Baratta, made no mention of Mueller. And media reports are that a power struggle between Baratta and Mueller could be one of the factors behind Mueller’s uncertain future so far.

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Already, some industry figures say that the uncertainty over who will be calling the shots at the 69th edition of the festival next year could hurt the festival’s changes to continue its streak of strong international lineups established during Mueller’s tenure.