Marco Mueller is now director of the Macau International Film Festival, whose inaugural edition will run from December 8 to 13. This will be the second time in Mueller’s long and distinguished career that he would be creating and directing a movie festival. In 1978, he established the Electric Shadows Film Festival at Turin, which became renowned for presenting the history of Chinese cinema.
Fluent in several languages, including Mandarin, Mueller would later in his life head the Beijing International Film Festival and programme the Silk Road International Film Festival at Fuzhou in China.
A celebrated movie critic and documentarist, Mueller headed the Rotterdam International Film Festival from 1989 to 1991, and Locarno from 1991 to 2000.
However, his most talked-about assignment was the directorship of the Venice Film Festival, the oldest in the world having begun in 1932 basically as a propaganda platform for Fascist forces led by Mussolini and Hitler.
When Muller took over Venice in April 2004, the festival was sinking -- having been clearly edged over by Cannes (whose remarkable stability at the head -- after its trying times in the late 1960s when students’ and workers’ revolt as well as financial impediments -- pushed it far ahead of Berlin and Venice).
It is this tottering Venice that Mueller pulled out of the Adriatic Sea, giving the festival a fresh pump of oxygen. A time came during his eight-year stint at Venice when he had just about every film in the official sections as premieres. This was a fantastic achievement, given the fact that Cannes in May preceded Venice in September. And, many of the Venice premieres went on to sparkle at the Oscars the following year.
Sadly, his stay at Beijing and Fuzhou (where he was head of programming) was limited to just a year.
Hopefully, Macau will be different for Mueller.
Organised by the Government of Macau and the Macau Film and Television Productions and Culture Association, the new festival aims at becoming a major centre of East Asian cinema and international movies. The festival plans to have a programme with a slant towards genre films. It will feature a competition section, galas and special focus categories, along with industry screenings and a co-production event.
Macau is much like Hong Kong and is called a Special Administrative Region, administered by mainland China. Macau, which enjoys a high degree of autonomy, has a huge casino and gaming centres. There was a time when it boasted of revenues higher than Las Vegas.