Eugenio Miozzi’s rigid, Rationalist ‘Palace of Cinema’ seems as ill-suited to the playboy Lido as a woolly bathing suit. But its severe Fascist lines were well in keeping with the ambitious modernism of the era, when business tycoon and Fascist minister Count Giuseppe di Volpi cleverly conceived of the film festival as a means of fostering the Lido's upmarket tourism industry.
It was an inspired idea in keeping with Volpi’s other modernising projects – the Schneider Trophy air race, the Casino and an international motor boat race – all of which lured a new breed of moneyed American, English and French holidaymakers to the island.
Inaugurated in August 1932 on the terrace of the Excelsior, the festival was the first of its kind (Cannes was a relative latecomer in 1946) and capitalized on the boom in the film-making industry. So great was its success, in fact, Miozzi’s palazzo was commissioned within three years and the festival transferred to its new venue in 1938 where it still takes place today.