Rossana Rummo, the popular head of the Italian government's cinema department is to be replaced on October 1st by Gianni Profita, a political ally of Silvio Berlusconi.

Profita is known to be close to Carmelo Rocca, currently the general secretary of the cultural ministry. He is a media professor at Rome's Luiss School of Political Science.

News of Rummo's (pictured) departure emerged at the 19th European Film Festival (Sept 14th -21st) in the coastal town of Viareggio, Tuscany.

Profita's appointment is the latest in a controversial shake-up at the top of all state-related film and media jobs which occurs whenever a new government is elected in Italy.

The fickle system is widely criticised for failing to provide any kind of stability and continuity at the country's most prestigious institutions, including the Venice Film Festival.

As a result, a number of institutions, such as the Venice Biennale, Cinecitta, and the state film department have been left in a state of limbo as the local film industry awaits the arrival of new management - and new regulations.

Since Berlusconi came to power in May 2001, cronies have been appointed to the management of state broadcaster RAI and the national film school, among others.

Rummo had been appointed by the previous centre-left government under then cultural minister Giovanna Melandri. She was named head of the state entertainment department in 1999 and director of the cinema department just last year.

The director of the cinema department is responsible for heading the committee that hands out state funds to projects that are deemed of "national cultural interest."