Venice looks to future with Palazzo plans

Day 2 of the festival also marked by anti-piracy effort

VENICE -- Plans for the Venice Film Festival's new venue became a little clearer Thursday as the festival offered a sneak peek of its new Palazzo del Cinema, set to be fully operational for the event's 68th edition in 2011.

The design reveals a futuristic gold leaf shell structure imagined by Algerian-born French architect Rudy Ricciotti. The venue will include a total of 2,700 seats split among three main halls in a structure covering nearly 39,000 square feet -- roughly the size of the Roman Coliseum.

The timing of the project's completion matches up with both the conclusion of artistic director Marco Mueller's second term and the sesquicentennial of Italy's unification.

"We think the new building will be very contemporary, while also fitting in nicely with the Venetian context," Mueller said of the €70 million ($103 million) complex.

Meanwhile, the main competition for this year's edition got under way with three screenings -- Christian Petzoid's "Jerichow," Takeshi Kitano's "Akires to kame" (Achilles and the Tortoise) and Barbet Schroder's "Inju, le bete dans l'ombre" (Inju) -- and a group of leading Italian industry figures announced they will work together to help battle piracy.

The just-completed "Jerichow," which tells the story of three people thrown together under unusual circumstances, and "Akires to kame," a drama about the struggles of a would-be artist, screened in the current Palazzo del Cinema's Sala Grande.

The anti-piracy initiative pulled together leading lights from the Italian industry, including producer, distributor and writer associations, along with Gaetano Blandini, the Italian Ministry of Culture's top film sector official.