The Director of the Cinema Sector, Marco Mueller receives the Orden Druzhby, A State honour granted by the Russian Federation

The Director of the Cinema Sector of the Biennale di Venezia, Marco Mueller, has received the prestigious Orden Druzhby (Order of Friendship), an honour from the Russian Federation State, given by decree by President Dmitry Medvedev. This is the highest award that can be assigned to a foreign national, and was established in 1974 for high achievements in promoting friendship between nations and between cultures.

The honour will be given to Marco Mueller on Thursday, June 10 by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Alexey Meshkov, in the Embassy in Rome. 

The President of the Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta, will also be present at the ceremony. He has warmly congratulated Marco Mueller for this new international recognition, which joins the Centenary of the Foundation Award (Switzerland, December 2007) and that of the Japan Foundation (Japan, October 2008).

Trained under the aegis of Gianni Buttafava, the most extraordinary “Italian disseminator” of Russian cinema and culture (who died prematurely in June 1990 while working on the Soviet part of the “Prima dei codici” retrospective for the Biennale di Venezia), Mueller worked with Buttafava in curating many monographs on Russian cinema, for four consecutive years from 1986 to 1989, while he was director of the Festival of New Cinema in Pesaro, helping to make some of the masterpieces of the New Russian Cinema obscured by Brezhnev’s censorship visible for the first time (works by Aleksander Sokurov, Kira Muratova, Andrei Konchalovsky and many others). He continued his work on fine Russian cinema for years as director of the Rotterdam Film Festival, producing not only a great overview of the history of Lenfil’m, but also  the first publication in a Western language dedicated to the School of Leningrad. In his decade at Locarno, Mueller started an in-depth work on the Secret History of Russian Cinema, and in particular on “forgotten films” (blocked by Stalin’s and later censors and never “liberated”), which finally resulted in the retrospective on heterodox musicals, prepared by him together with Aliona Shumakhova for the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

For Marco Mueller, the conferment of the “Orden Druzhba” is further confirmation of the international importance of the work done on Russian cinema, in addition to the award for Contribution to Knowledge and the Dissemination of Russian Cinema that was awarded to him in June 2007 at the Kinotaur Festival at Sochi (the most important festival devoted to Russian cinema in the country), on the occasion of the foundation of the award, thereby recognising him as a key researcher and disseminator of knowledge among the directors of Western festivals.

Over the past seven years, the Venice Film Festival has helped launch many new Russian filmmakers and stress the importance of the leading new exponents of Russian cinema.

The 2010 edition of the festival also promises to be rich in discoveries and confirmations, which will be extended (thanks to the new format of the Orizzonti competition) also to medium-length and short films.