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Champion of the silver screen

Updated: 2024-02-03 08:23 ( China Daily )
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Marco Mueller, former director of the Venice, Rome and Locarno film festivals, has devoted himself to promoting Chinese films for decades. [Photo provided to China Daily]

After decades promoting Chinese movies, 70-year-old Italian producer and festival director takes up new roles in the country, Li Yingxue reports.

Fluent in Mandarin, and dressed in traditional Chinese style jacket, 70-year-old Marco Mueller wears a number of labels, including those of "film selector", "film festival president", "Italian film critic", and "producer". However, the most prominent label he wears is that of "China expert".

Mueller's journey began in 1975 when he became one of the first Italian students to study in China since the founding of New China. Over the past 50 years, his connection with the country has greatly deepened.

Director Zhang Yimou and Marco Mueller (right) pose for a photo. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Having been a key figure in the Italian film industry, and the director of international film festivals like those of Venice and Rome, Mueller has helped bring outstanding work by directors such as Xie Jin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke to the world, and is recognized as the person who introduced Chinese cinema to a global audience.

"I love Chinese cinema and want the world to see it," says the Italian.

On Jan 14, the ninth Huilin Prize award ceremony, organized by the Huilin Foundation and the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture at Beijing Normal University, was held at the university's Jingshi Hall.

Named after Huang Huilin, a senior professor of the university, the prize is awarded to one Chinese and one foreign national, each for their contributions to the international promotion of Chinese culture.

This year, Mueller was the foreign recipient. The citation praised him for his 40-plus years of contribution to Chinese cinema. As film selector, producer, and festival director, he has brought Chinese films to major international festivals, consistently raising their profile.

"Despite being in his 70s, Mueller's keen eye for global film trends remains unwavering. He tirelessly promotes Chinese cinema, offering a broader perspective for local films. His efforts have contributed significantly to the international recognition of Chinese cinema and culture," vice-president Zhou Zuoyu of Beijing Normal University says in acknowledgment of Mueller's achievements.

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