Franco Bernabe, the new head of the Biennale, which operates all theVenice arts festival, yesterday added his voice to the calls for modernisationof the film event.

Bernabe, one on Italy's most senior business leaders,having run petrochemical giant ENI and Telecom Italia, likened the Venice FilmFestival to the World Economic Summit in Davos. "The Venice Lido is extremelysafe from a security point of view, we can control access and within thatcreatre an informal environment with not too much infrastructure.

Herapidly explained that the infrastructure is in need of improvement. "We havethe atmosphere, what we need to do now is improve the services, improveefficiency." Bernabe did not detail the changes he wants to make but hinted atrefurbishment of certain buildings used by the festival.

In a welcome and new-found spirit of open-mindednessBernabe held a meeting with editors and senior foreign journalists to shedlight on the the issues with the festival. These include thetwin-competitions, the limited and high-price cost of hotel rooms and the greedof hotelliers who charge several hundreds of dollars per day for publicists and TV crews to use their bars and gardens for interviews. This was said to be making Venice poor value for marketeers,comapre dwith other events such as the more-business-like Toronto festivalwhich starts today (Wednesday).

Interestingly, for gossip-mongers and professionalfestival goers, Bernabe's call for modernisation is in tune with the widelyreported views of stand-in artisitic director Moritz De Hadeln, whose contractexpires in October. Both Bernabe and De Hadeln were tight-lipped on thequestion of whether De Hadeln will be offered the job, and whether he evenwants it. "Franco Bernabe and I are playing the same music," said De Hadeln."With an entrepreneur [Bernabe] at the top it doesn't make any differencewhether I am here or not.