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Rome’s MAXXI Museum Cancels Premiere of Anti-Berlusconi Documentary Ahead of Election

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At the request of Italy’s Ministry of Culture, Rome’s MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Art has canceled the premiere of a new documentary directed by journalist Annalisa Piras that is very critical of media mogul and three-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, “Girlfriend in a Coma” — which was scheduled to screen there on February 13 — a move that has drawn accusations of censorship, particularly with the February 24-25 election in which Berlusconi is running for a fourth term looming.

Following the Ministry of Culture request, museum officials said it would be unfair to screen the documentary so soon before an election in which Berlusconi is a contender — he is currently running a close second to former minister Pier Luigi Bersani in the polls — but that it will show the film after the election, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The documentary chronicles Italy’s decline between 2001 and 2011. Berlusconi’s two most recent terms as prime minister — following a short seven-month stint in 1994-95 — spanned 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. Despite the source of the request to cancel the premiere, a ministry controlled by the incumbent Mario Monti, who is currently third in the polls behind Berlusconi, the former prime minister’s critics say the decision smacks of censorship.

The doc’s co-writer Bill Emmot, a former editor at “The Economist” whose book “Good Italy, Bad Italy” served as the basis for the film, criticized the decision for its “stupidity.” The film’s producers are looking for an alternative venue in which to screen the film before the election.

Watch the trailer of “Girlfriend in a Coma” below:

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo: Simone Cecchetti; via MAXXI/Facebook.)

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