Marco Mueller honored by China

Venice head gets Friendship Award from premier Wen Jiabao

ROME -- Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller will be presented with the Friendship Award from Wen Jiabao, the premier of the People's Republic of China, the festival announced Tuesday.

The award, which will be presented Thursday in a private ceremony in Rome, will be given to mark the opening of the Year of Chinese Culture in Italy and will be one of the official functions of Wen's official state visit to celebrate that event.

Mueller, who has lived in China and who speaks fluent Mandarin, has been a long-time proponent of Chinese film and has brought scores of Chinese productions to the Venice Festival, which concluded its 67th edition last month.

"The vitality of Chinese film no longer needs confirmation," Mueller said in a statement. "Even the casual spectator, who happened by chance to view the final rebounds of the great martial arts cinema, can clearly see why: a plastic sense that is constantly regenerated, stylistic elements that remain personal, aesthetic experimentation that never wanes."