More than 600 programs planned

MILAN — The first Venice Intl. Television Festival kicks off in the city on Thursday, confirming the growing importance of European TV production.

The five–day fest will be held at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido, which also hosts the Venice Film Fest.

Directed by Marlene Sternbaum, former head of the Munich Film Fest, the new event is an initiative of the Italian Assoc. of Television Producers and VeneziaFiere and is supported by the European Commission, Kodak and other sponsors. Honorary president is film director Lina Wertmeuller and chairman is Adriano Ariè.

More than 600 programs, including TV movies, docus, format and TV serials, have been presented to the fest. Products range from low-budget art films, such as Austria’s “Wasserfall von Slunj” by director Peter Patzak, to costly international coproductions like Alfonso Arau’s TV movie “The Magnificent Ambersons.”

European products will compete for the Canal Grande Awards. Categories are TV movies, serials, documentaries, cartoons and formats.

In the fiction category, which includes TV movies and serials, Canal Grande Awards will be given to director, scriptwriter, actor/actress and support actor/actress.

Non-European TV programs will screen in the International Highlights section, out of competition. This year they will come from the U.S. and Israel.

Programs in this section include Uli Edel’s TV movie “King of Texas” and Robert Dornhelm’s mini-series “Anne Frank” starring Ben Kingsley and co-produced by the U.S. and the U.K.

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