Italian politician slams Tarantino's Venice stint

Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:39pm EDT
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By Eric J. Lyman

ROME (Hollywood Reporter) - Italy's Minister of Culture said he wants to pick the president of the jury for the next Venice Film Festival, arguing that the state's support gives him that right and charging that festival artistic director Marco Mueller's choice of auteur Quentin Tarantino as president of the last jury was "elitist."

In an interview published in Friday's edition of the Italian newsweekly Panorama, Minister Sandro Bondi blasted the decision of the jury to award the festival's top prize to Sophia Coppola's "Somewhere." Since the festival concluded September 11, the Italian media has charged that the choice showed favoritism toward American writer-director Coppola, Tarantino's former girlfriend.

Tarantino also was criticized for the jury's decision to present Tarantino's mentor, the respected independent filmmaker Monte Hellman, with a career award, and for giving two major awards to Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia, a longtime friend of the 47-year-old Tarantino.

After the festival, Tarantino aggressively denied "steering" the jury, which included fellow directors Arnaud Desplechin of France, Guillermo Arriaga of Mexico, and Italians Gabriele Salvatores and Luca Guadagnino, plus Lithuanian actress Ingeborga Dapkunaite and composer Danny Elfman.

"Tarantino is the expression of an elitist, relativistic and snobbish culture," Bondi said in the interview. "It's clear that his vision influences his critical judgment. The results of this year's festival should oblige everyone to open their eyes and do a little bit of soul searching."

Bondi also criticized Mueller, who has been Venice's artistic director since 2004.

"Mueller is like a soccer coach, in love with his own schemes up to the point that he is unable to focus on the talent that is visible to everyone else," the magazine quoted Bondi as saying.