Italy's association of independent producers (API) has officially voiced its concern over the threat of political interference on the Lido, which is already casting doubt over Moritz de Hadeln's position as artistic director of the Venice Film Festival.

A new polemic erupted this week when the government's plan for a major overhaul of the Biennale, the organisation that manages the Venice Film Festival, was leaked to the local media.

According to the leaked plans for the Biennale's overhaul, which is expected to take place in December, the Italian government wants the festival to be managed by a new body, to be run by state-owned Cinecitta Holding and National Film School, as well as the Biennale.

The powerful new organisation would be able to hire and fire festival directors and have a say in the event's line-up.

However, critics argue that the new organisation's make-up would seriously undermine the festival's autonomy and would cause a massive conflict of interest.

In an article, national daily La Repubblica said: "The festival will no longer be managed by the Biennale [which would only have a minority stake in the new company]. It will fall into the hands of the people who control the state production and promotion of Italian film."

In the meantime, names of potential new festival directors have already been thrown around in the media. These include veteran Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini and TV anchorman and ex-Mediatrade president Maurizio Costanzo.

In its official statement, API said: "The polemic over the potential reform of the Biennale has once again highlighted the weakness of Italian film institutions."

"Appointments are political, they have a political role and are controlled by politics. We must remember that the Biennale's board of directors has already towed the political line and removed a great festival director, Alberto Barbera, and president, Paolo Baratta, despite the quality of their work."

"This is unthinkable in any other country in the world, where everyone, including politicians, understands that the only way to meet important objectives is to have a continuity of management, based on people's independence and capacity, rather than on their political affiliations," the producers said.

API added: "Urbani must be able to show that the festival will be run without any kind of political interference whatsoever. We hope the first sign of this will be not to approve this hypothetical and extremely dangerous proposal for a reform of the Biennale's statute."

In an interview with Repubblica, Biennale president Franco Bernabe' said: "I don't believe that this reform has received [Culture minister] Giuliano Urbani's stamp of approval yet. In any event, I don't think there is any doubt over the [festival's] autonomy."