Leading Italian Industry Figure Speaks Out in Favor of Marco Mueller to Take Over Rome Festival

Marco Mueller
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Comments from ANICA head Riccardo Tozzi spark debate over stalled process to select the next artistic director of the seven-year-old Rome festival.


ROME – Riccardo Tozzi, the head of the Italian film industry association ANICA, said over the weekend that former Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller should be quickly appointed as head of the International Rome Film Festival, arguing that the seven-year-old festival could “disappear” without him.

Tozzi’s comments sparked a debate locally, and cast unwanted light on the festival’s apparent inability to decide between the Rome-born Mueller and Piera Detassis, the festival’s incumbent artistic director. Votes on the topic have been rescheduled at least three times, and there is still no indication when the decision would be made. Both Mueller and Detassis have the backing of key government entities that contribute to Rome’s budget, most of which have threatened to pull their funding if their candidate is not selected.

Tozzi and ANICA do not have a direct say on the decision, but his views are considered important because of Tozzi’s standing in the industry.

“The only correct decision is left is the nomination of Mueller as artistic director,” the daily newspaper La Repubblica quoted Tozzi as saying. “My explicit statement comes from the desire to avoid the real risk that the Rome festival could disappear.”

Tozzi’s comments sparked a torrent of responses among other industry figures.

Producer Domenico Procacci said he did not share Tozzi’s views, arguing, “It’s obvious Mueller could do a great job directing the festival, and that Detassis could also continue the brilliant works she’s done. But it’s important that the process [for selecting a candidate] be followed.”

Director Ettore Scola said that a system in which someone like Tozzi can speak out of turn should be challenged. Other figures used the opportunity to voice support for one or the other of the candidates. Meanwhile, none of the six entities with an actual vote on the decision gave any indication their stances on the deadlocked situation could change.