New Italian Culture Czar Could Raise Ministry's Profile

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Dario Franceschini

Dario Franceschini, a published novelist, does not have strong ties to cinema. But he is a powerful political figure.

ROME -- As expected, veteran political figure Dario Franceschini was appointed minister of culture in the new Italian government in a move that could help raise the profile of the post that has an influence over the cinema industry in Italy.

The main knock against Franceschini in his new post is that he has not shown strongly held views on cinema, entertainment, tourism or culture -- the main areas he'll oversee in his new post, though with three well-received novels to his credit he is not a complete outsider.

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But analysts said that a powerful party figure who was minister for parliamentary relations in the previous government and who was in 2009 general secretary of the political party that produced the last two Italian prime ministers could be a good sign for what had been considered a second-tier ministry in the past.

The ministry has a great influence over the cinema industry in the country because of its role in determining tax credits and other incentives for film projects, blocs of funding for the country's main film festivals, and the ministry's role in promoting Italian film abroad and Italy as a destination for film shoots.

Previous ministers have also played the role of a mediator in clashes between Italian film festivals.

Franceschini will be part of the government of Matteo Renzi, himself a former party secretary and mayor of Florence. Renzi pushed out predecessor Enrico Letta in a bitter power struggle earlier this month, and upon being sworn in Saturday will become Italy's youngest ever prime minister at age 39.

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