Venice Film Festival artistic director Marco Mueller is set to receive China’s prestigious Friendship Award from the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Wen Jiabao, in a closed door meeting in Rome.

The meeting between the two is set for October 7, the first day of the “Year of Chinese Culture in Italy.”

Mueller – who speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese – underlined on this occasion that “the vitality of Chinese film no longer needs confirmation.”

In fact, so known is Mueller in the China’s film world that at the celebrations of the Chinese film centennial held in Beijing in 2005, Mueller was seated at the president’s table alongside filmmakers from continental China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for his representation of Chinese cinema in the world.

 “Over the past thirty years, the Venice Film Festival has systematically worked to offer Chinese filmmakers unprecedented visibility and thus help them penetrate the international market – aided by the many Lions and other awards they have won from Zhang Yimou to Ang Lee, Jia Zhangke, Hou Xiaoxian, Cai Mingliang, Zhang Yuan, Liu Jie and Jiang Wen,” said Mueller.

Mueller’s involvement in Chinese film began long before he was artistic director at Venice. From 1980 to 1994, Mueller’s collaborations with Venice included consulting on Chinese and Asian films, influencing Golden Lions that went to Zhang Yimou, Hou Xiaoxian and Cai Mingliang. He also organized the first major retrospective of Chinese film in the West in 1982 called Electric Shadows, which showed in Turin, Milan and Rome.

Since the early eighties he has written on Chinese films for retrospective publications and since the 1990s co financed and co produced Chinese independent films.

The recognition follows such cultural accolades as Switzerland’s Fondazione del Centennario Prize in 2007, the Arts and Culture Prize of the Japan Foundation in 2008 as well as the Orden Druzhby from the Russian Federation earlier this year.