Funds OK'd for Venice fest's Palazzo


LOCARNO, Switzerland -- Venice's much-anticipated Palazzo del Cinema revamp has come a step closer to completion after the government's inter-ministerial committee, known as Cipe, approved funding for the project.

The reconstruction of the crumbling Palazzo del Cinema has long been considered the centerpiece of the Venice Film Festival's efforts to remain a key player as it competes against rivals including the Festival de Cannes and the upstart RomaCinemaFest, which takes place in the modern, spacious Parco della Musica.

The approval from Cipe was one of the key remaining hurdles before construction on new facilities can begin this year. Venice Biennale president Davide Croff on Friday called the news "an important step."

Venice artistic director Marco Mueller, who has spent much of his five-year mandate lobbying for the new building, said in an interview last month that he tries not to get too excited when it comes to reports of good news regarding the Palazzo del Cinema.

"I will start to celebrate when the construction work actually starts," he said.

In other Venice festival news, Cinecitta Holding, the parent company of Italy's venerable Rome-based Cinecitta studios, will sponsor a two-day exchange at next month's 75th anniversary edition intended to help filmmakers, distributors and producers meet bankers who can help finance their projects.

Borsa del Cinema (the Cinema Exchange) will be held Sept. 4-5, with meetings taking place in a dedicated area of Cinecitta Holding's space in Venice. If the plan is a success, it could be expanded in future years, officials said.