Italy appoints comic Lino Banfi to post related to UNESCO
ROME, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Over a film career spanning nearly 60 years, Lino Banfi kept generations of Italians laughing in roles as a well-intentioned buffoon.
Now 82, Banfi's surprise appointment has earned headlines across Italy recently -- as well as in some neighboring countries -- when the Italian government appointed him as Italy's representative to a key oversight commission with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
He replaced writer, critic, and film director Folco Quilici who died last year.
On his appointment, Banfi admitted that he did not have a high level of education, nor did he have a background in science. Additionally, his cultural experience is based on the more than 100 comedies he made in a career that started in 1960.
"Enough with all these people with multiple academic degrees," Banfi said at an event accepting his appointment. "I will bring a smile."
Banfi promised to work hard to prepare for the new role: "I will now immerse myself in the studies to understand just what UNESCO does," he said.
In Italy, most media took the appointment as a chance to poke fun -- not at Banfi but at the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement, which appointed him to the post. The Five-Star Movement is one of the two parties supporting the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The Milan daily "Il Giornale" speculated that Banfi's nomination could be a "sensational mistake."
ADN Kronos, an Italian news service, reported that Italians were "amazed" and "angered" at Banfi's appointment, saying the Five-Start Movement seemed to be performing unexpected experiments on Italians to see how they'll react.
But Mariarita Signorini, president of Italia Nostra, an organization that acts to protect Italian cultural, natural, and artistic heritage, took a more measured approach toward Banfi's appointment.
"The choice is a little perplexing," Signorini told Xinhua. "But we don't see it as a scandal. The important thing is that Italy's representative can communicate the country's values. If Lino Banfi will do that, then he's the right man for the job."