The Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido di Venezia is the main headquarters for the Venice International Film Festival. Built in record time in the Modernist style of the time, it was inaugurated on August 10th 1937 for the fifth edition of the Festival. Compared to the rhetorical monumentality of the nearby Casino building, the Palazzo del Cinema, which features a Hall and a 1032-seat screening theatre (+4 seats reserved for people with disabilities), is a synthesis of Rationalist models. What remains today of the original building are the two rounded sides and the lateral façades.
Palazzo del Cinema
THE ADDITIONS AND RESTORATION
With the growing popularity of the Venice Film Festival, which in the early 1950s counted more than one hundred thousand spectators, it became necessary to expand the building. The project was entrusted to the engineer Luigi Quagliata who developed an ambitious design for a five-story building with theatres that could seat 5000. The Sala Grande was expanded to seat 2300 spectators; the project also included an open-air Arena, office space and services, and a roof garden with a panoramic view of Venice and the Lido. This ambitious project was never completed for lack of funds: all that was built was the outdoor Arena in 1952 and a small annex on the main façade of the 1937 building known as the Avancorpo, which served to expand the Foyer of the Sala Grande and create an area for offices and services. The Foyer was later reduced to fit the new Sala Volpi screening room and provide both office space and a ticket office.
Between 2012 and 2015 the Palazzo del Cinema was renovated, restoring the Foyer of the Avancorpo to its original size with the demolition of Sala Volpi; large new entrances were created on the sides of the Avancorpo to create a better relationship between the spaces of the Venice Film Festival (Palazzo del Cinema, Avancorpo and Sala Darsena), the surrounding urban area, and the former Casinò building. The outdoor areas are used during the International Venice Film Festival to set up the Cittadella del Cinema, which offers structures and reception services for the public. During this phase, the Zorzi and Pasinetti screening rooms as well as the service spaces on the basement floor of the historic section of the 1937 building underwent renovation, and an independent entrance was created from the Foyer of the Avancorpo.
Work was begun by the City of Venice in 2016, and continues to this day, to regenerate the entire area in front of the Palazzo del Casinò and the Palazzo del Cinema. The work will include renovation of the access area to the Palazzo del Cinema, with the construction of a permanent walkway (it will serve as the red carpet for the actors and film delegations). La Biennale is continuing its programme to regenerate the small square on the side of Via Candia to provide an adequate secondary access for the public and film delegations leaving the Palazzo del Cinema.
The historic Sala Grande – where the main screenings and awards ceremonies of the Festival take place – underwent a series of transformations first in the 1950s, then in 1995, and the final phase in 2011, which entailed a radical restoration of the interiors which were equipped with the latest technology required to support the visual and sound standards of the screenings at the Venice Film Festival. The restyling of the Sala Grande was inspired by the formal elements of the 1937 building, reinterpreted in a contemporary key, including wood paneling along the walls and new seats, increased in number from 1019 to 1032 (+4 seats reserved for people with disabilities), with the seating inspired by Luigi Quagliata's original design, upholstered in a custom-designed fabric. Great attention was paid to the lighting and especially to improving the acoustics of the Sala, the trapezoid form of which was designed to optimize the acoustics of the sound systems in use at that time, but was inadequate to meet the needs of today's sound systems.
Today's Sala Darsena, once known as the Pala Galileo, was built on the base of the open-air Arena constructed during the expansion in the 1950s adjacent to the Palazzo del Cinema. When it was built, it provided seating for over 1500 people for the evening screenings of the Venice Film Festival. The laminated wood roof was built in less than 3 months in 1999, to a project by architect Enrico Valeriani, and was intended to be a temporary solution before a more radical renovation could begin. In 2014, the Sala Darsena was significantly renovated by the Biennale with the purpose of turning it into a screening room equal to the Sala Grande. The interiors and technology were updated and a foyer was built to receive the public.
The walls of the Sala were redesigned with technical screens in a variety of different shapes, made out of a highly sound-absorbing fabric to guarantee the finest acoustic performance. The existing stepped seating area was expanded to fit new seats sized to provide spectator comfort and to increase the capacity to 1401 (+ 8 seats reserved for people with disabilities). The latest screening and audio technology was introduced and the new projection room provided spaces for directing, audio control and simultaneous translation facilities. An entrance Foyer was built on the side towards the Casinò with a wood and glass structure, and a new entrance system was developed with stairs, ramps and green areas integrated into the surrounding urban space.
Palazzo del Cinema
30126 LIDO DI VENEZIA
TEL. +39 0415218711