VENICE — Italo culture minister Francesco Rutelli speedboated to the Lido on Friday to lay out solid-sounding plans for new digs, which the 75-year-old Venice Film Festival has been waiting 50 years for.
“The festival will finally have a new Palazzo del Cinema with lots of space to launch a film market,” the Culture Czar enthused at a packed presser.
“And the Lido will get a year-round congress center to drive its economic relaunch,” the center-left pol added.
The idea is clearly to turn the Venetian seaside resort area — which has seen better days since Luchino Visconti set his 1971 classic “Death in Venice” on the Lido’s Hotel des Bains — into a Cannes-like confab hub.
Biennale prexy Davide Croff and a panel of politicos, including Venice mayor Massimo Cacciari, said construction will start in 2008 on a spiffy-looking space age structure with a 2,400-seat theater shaped like an upside-down ship next to the current Fascist-era palazzo, plus a dozen other screening rooms and a market pavilion at or below sea level. Target completion date is by fest time in 2011.
Two new elaborate catwalks will have the Lido beach and lagoon as a backdrop.
Rutelli said construction work would not prevent the fest from running in the interim, though he admitted details on how that feat can be accomplished are still fuzzy.
The minister said the government will contribute Euros 20 million ($26 million), while regional and local coin will make up the remaining $91 million necessary to build the futuristic venue.
The building would rival the Rome Film Festival’s Renzo Piano-designed auditorium in terms of contempo look, but be more congenial to movies and business.
That said, prospects for a market in Venice are iffy due to its temporal proximity to Toronto.
“I remember coming here in 1955 and back then everybody was clamoring for a new palazzo,” said producer Fulvio Lucisano. “Congratulations!”