Mifed’s slow fade

Mart shifting to Venice fest and Lido locale

ROME — Mifed has reached an agreement with the Venice Film Festival under which the Italo mart will gradually move from Milan to the Lido, with plans for its 2005 edition to start in Milan and end on the Lagoon.

Mifed 2005 will begin in late August in Milan and then shift to the Venice Lido for an additional three-day stint, Mifed director Carlo Bassi told Daily Variety.

Mifed’s exact new dates for next year will be set when Venice’s exact timeslot is known. “Our commitment will be to provide transportation for both buyers and sellers,” Bassi said. Venice is located 150 miles east of Milan.

Disheartened by a massive defection of U.S. and U.K. companies for its upcoming Oct 12-16 edition — after AFM invaded its customary November slot — the 44-year-old Italian industry institution has thrown in the towel.

“More war with AFM would have been a disaster,” said Bassi. “I think it’s the best solution for us and for Venice. Today it is impossible to imagine a Mifed in Venice for logistical reasons. But in the future it is imaginable.”

Idea is that once Venice has the right infrastructure in place — namely, a new Palazzo del Cinema with 20-30 screening rooms, no sooner than 2008 — Mifed will morph into the Venice market, to be held entirely on the Lido.

Meanwhile, the plan is for a “bridge” solution, half in Milan and half at the Lido, where — starting next year — some extra screening rooms will be available for market attendees.

While the lack of a bona-fide market has always been a major sore spot for Venice, plans for a transformation into a market-equipped fest like Cannes or Berlin are still far from becoming concrete.

Projects are being drawn up for a new Palazzo del Cinema, but it is still not certain whether substantial state coin needed to build the new facility will materialize.

“This is the beginning of a collaboration, the terms of which still need to be defined,” said Venice artistic director Marco Muller. “Of course, we are happy if it brings more buyers to the Lido — no matter what form it takes. But there are still a lot of details that need to be worked out.”

In its current post-Mipcom slot, Mifed has suffered a loss of almost half its customary clientele, with only a handful of U.S. and U.K. companies registered to attend.

This year 136 companies — mostly from Europe — have booked stand space, with 447 buyers pre-registered and 225 pics unspooling, 125 of which are market premieres, according to organizers.

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