Expansion aims to make fest a production hub

The world has changed since Giffoni was born.

Kids aren’t what they were 40 years ago,” says founder Claudio Gubitosi. And neither is his fest, which recently announced securing an initial $27 million for his long-gestating Giffoni Multimedia Valley, a massive $40 million complex comprising a children’s film museum and library, two 500-seat cinemas, an open air arena hosting 10,000 people, a 400-bed campus and, last but not least, facilities to produce youth-oriented film and TV product.

I asked myself, ‘How can I make Giffoni operational at an industrial level? How can the Giffoni brand continue to emanate energy? ” Gubitosi recalls.

The idea is for the new structure to turn Giffoni into a year-round children’s cinema mecca and, at the same time, for it to become a “production incubator.” Aspiring to launch Southern Italy’s largest production studio, Gubitosi is hoping to position Giffoni as a business-to-business brand that will allow his (now grown) creature to rely much more on private coin for financing in the future.

In 2014, we want to be 60% publicly funded and 40% private, which in Italy would be a huge accomplishment,” he says.

Budgeted at roughly $7 million, Giffoni currently gets the highest amount of Italian government fest coin after the Venice Film Festival.

Construction on the Multimedia Valley will start this year with a 2013 target completion date. One portion of the project that Gubitosi is looking to finance privately is the Giffoni campus, conceived as becoming an international film school of sorts for youths and also breeding ground and building-block for his production ambitions.

These are spurred by the concept that Giffoni should morph from the world’s largest event showing children’s movies into a place were movies are made, though details of this part of Gubitosi’s grand plan remain sketchy.

I want to produce animation and TV dramas for children; I want to sell scripts. I want ‘Made in Giffoni’ stories to be created. I am sure this can be done with the right partnerships, which could include the Hollywood majors,” he enthuses.

But while only time will tell whether Gubitosi’s ambitious goals will actually materialize, what’s certain is that Giffoni is already an incubator for future filmmakers.

It’s been my biggest film school,” says 18-year-old Sicilian wunderkind helmer Cristian Patane, a Giffoni juror for years who now has a short, “Le notti bianche.”

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