Venice Festival directorMarco Mueller has again repeated his calls for the festival to "solve itsinfrastructural problems" and ramp up its industry facilities. "We need biggertheatres," Mueller told as this year's festival heads into itsclosing weekend. "We need the capacity of those theatres to be bigger. We needthe autonomous sidebar sections to play in a totally different theatre so wehave more space for our screenings. We need a few smaller market and industryscreenings."

In an exclusive interviewwith, Mueller statedthat the festival would be "deceiving" its partners unless it provided suchfacilities.

"Toronto is always the example we have to follow," Muellersaid. "Toronto was granted the possibility of using a phenomenalvenue like the Varsity and now they are even building a new festival complex.We should think of something like that. Otherwise, international distributorswill not believe we want to attract even more visibility for their films."

He also emphasised the needfor Venice to provide "decent accommodation at reasonableprices."

Mueller acknowledged that hewas "irritated" that there had been so much discussion about the new RomeFestival and "the possibility of Rome shadowing the importance of Venice" in the run up to this year's event. He accused themedia of writing "very detailed gossip stories about the love and hate" betweenthe two events and of comparing films showing at the two events in terms oftheir budget rather than their quality.

"In terms of the industry,we have to see," he said when asked what attraction Rome is likely to have for buyers and sellers. "You canhave a lot of money and can spend a lot of money but still you have to analysethe results and not the fact that you have a lot of money."

Mueller added that he was notthreatened by Rome. "Why would we be'" he asks. "The key producers ofthis world have decided that they want to world premiere a film in Venice and they are holding up the domestic release of themovie so that Venice can create top visibility."

"I don't think anybody candispute the position Venice has confirmed and consolidated over the past threeyears," Mueller continued.

Nonetheless, he re-iteratedhis desire to see more buyers on the Lido - up from the300 on the Lido this year. "We definitely need to see more."

Mueller refuted suggestionsthat there have been too many US studio films in Venice's competition. "The studio films we have selectedare not exactly typical fare you would expect from major studios. Very often,they are independently produced, with self-arranged budgets, and they need thekind of special attention and care that can enhance their visibility," he saidof Venice's programming of such titles as The Black Dahlia, Hollywoodland and Bobby.

Asked why there was only oneKorean film in official selection, Mueller (a longtimechampion of Korean cinema), stated that he had to "respect the opinion of myselection committee members'they were more convinced by some of the mostvisionary animation works from Japan and they felt it was the year to insist on that. Ofcourse, I am very sad we have no Korean films in competition."

The festival director isthree years into his four-year contract. He declined to say whether he wouldlike his stewardship of the festival to continue after 2007. "Let's see whathappens when the contract expires. It is too early to say."