Culture minister pledges $26 mil to fest center

It’s official: The Venice Film Festival will get a new Palazzo del Cinema.

That’s the word from Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, who said an agreement for new Lido digs will be inked in the next few days.

“The good news is it will get made; we are just working out some final details,” announced Rutelli, speaking in Venice. The minister said the government will contribute E20 million ($26 million), while regional and local coin will make up the remaining $91 million necessary to build the futuristic venue.

Venice Biennale topper Davide Croff has long waxed optimistic about its prospects, but Rutelli’s announcement marks the first time a government rep has given the new palazzo a definite greenlight.

New project involves a 2,400-seat space-age theater shaped like an upside-down ship next to the current palazzo, which will be integrated into a structure with a dozen other screening rooms and a market pavilion at or below sea level.

Elaborate catwalks are supposed to have the Lido beach and lagoon as a backdrop.

The building would rival the RomeFilmFest’s Renzo Piano-designed auditorium in terms of contempo look but be more congenial to movies and business. Ambitious aim is to turn the Lido into a Cannes-like year-round confab hub.

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