Move is in tandem with Rome fest starting industry event

CANNES — Looking to lure more dealmakers, the Venice Film Festival has hired the Cannes Market’s former U.S. rep, Edith Grant, as its industry office consultant with a mandate to radically revamp the Lido event’s informal market side.

L.A.-based Grant, a onetime production/sales exec who worked with the Cannes Marche between 1997-2004, will be reorganizing Venice’s industry side with an eye to developing it into a bona-fide mart in view of planned construction of the fest’s new Palazzo del Cinema, though the futuristic facility is still on the drawing board.

“Most industry people have been coming to Venice only if they have a film there,” said artistic topper Marco Muller. “That has to change.”

“Many key executives I have spoken with in Los Angeles and New York said that because they valued the importance of Venice as an international platform — and as the starting point of the Academy Awards campaign — they also wanted it to become more of a place where they can meet to do business and check market trends,” Muller added.

Some 23 Oscar noms were garnered by films that preemed at Venice in 2005, including Golden Lion winner “Brokeback Mountain.”

The move to do something to lessen the Lido’s age-old market deficiency comes just as the nascent Rome Film Festival is launching a three-day industry event and a co-production mart in October in the Italian capital, a mere month and a half after Venice ends.

“At some point people will have to choose,” said Grant. “I don’t think that a festival with Venice’s prestige can just drown in the lagoon because there’s a Rome festival a month and a half later.”

One gripe Grant is well aware of is steep hotel and restaurant costs, which Venice is trying to negotiate deals on.

Last year, Venice attracted some 1,500 registered buyers and sellers.

The upcoming 63rd edition of the Lido fest will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more