The Locarno Film Festival’s long gestating Casa Del Cinema project has taken a major step forward following a CHF 10m donation by the recently established private foundation Fondazione Stella-Chiara.

The financing of the CHF 30m project is now secured, the town of Locarno announced on Tuesday (27).

A former school building near the Castello Visconteo is to be converted in an audiovisual centre of international renown to provide the Locarno Film Festival organisation with year-round headquarters and house a 500-seat cinema and two smaller screens, a specialist film library and archives as well as various educational institutions.

According to Locarno’s community president Carla Speziali there had been concern about financing the centre after the failure of plans for Locarno to merge with neighbouring communities last year.

The town of Locarno, the Swiss canton of Ticino and the regional tourism body will assume responsibility for raising the rest of the financing for the project, whose realisation will now rest solely in the hands of the town authorities.

Speziali told the Swiss press that construction work is expected to begin in 2013 after an international architecture competition and that the Casa Del Cinema was scheduled to open its doors in 2015.

The 65th Festival Del Film Locarno will be held from Aug 1-11.