County of Marin - News Releases - Cultural Treasure Award

For Immediate Release
October 30, 2015

Lido Cantarutti Designated as ‘Cultural Treasure’

Marin Center honors Director of Italian Film Festival, longtime County Fair emcee

San Rafael, CA – Lido Cantarutti, Director of the Italian Film Festival of Marin County for 39 years and one of the county’s most beloved residents of Italian descent, has been selected the 2016 recipient of the Marin Cultural Treasure Award by Marin Center.

Lido Cantarutti sits in a chair and smiles at the Showcase Theater.Cantarutti, who lives in San Rafael, has spent 30 years as a volunteer Master of Ceremonies for the Marin County Fair and is a past Marin County Italian American Citizen of the Year. The part-time Italian language instructor at College of Marin has produced the Italian Film Festival in Marin Center’s Showcase Theater each fall for six consecutive weekends.

“Lido Cantarutti exemplifies the essence of what it means to be selected as a cultural treasure,” said Al Boro, Chair of the Marin County Cultural Services Commission. “This festival has become the ‘must see’ event for those who appreciate Italian films. Lido is a true cultural treasure for Marin County.” 

The Marin Cultural Treasure Award recognizes an individual or individuals who have made significant and sustained contributions to cultural life in Marin through outstanding service and support of Marin Center cultural programs and services.

Since 1989, the Italian Film Festival of Marin County has called the Showcase Theater its home to rave reviews and sellout audiences. Originally started as an informal, one-time only presentation of Italian movies in a college lecture hall, the festival has grown over nearly 40 years into a perennial Bay Area favorite. The program has included appearances from Italian film directors and composers, dignitaries of the Italian and Italian-American communities, and an authentically Italian atmosphere at every presentation. The centerpiece, however, is always top-quality Italian cinema. 

In his work with the County Fair, Cantarutti has emceed special event days including Arts Day, Dairy Day and International Day; Special Contests held in Friends of Marin Center Room; and for the Blue Ribbon Stage.

Although he was born in the United States, Cantarutti is well known in Italy, too. In 1989, he was honored with Italian knighthood and the title of “cavaliere” or “knight” of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. In 2001, the Italian government promoted him to “cavaliere ufficiale” or “knight officer.” Earlier this month, Cantarutti was acknowledged by the President of the Republic of Italy and became only the fourth American-born person to be bestowed with title of Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy). He has received several other major honors in Italy as well.

Locally, he was named Marin County’s Italian American Citizen of the Year by the Cristoforo Club of Marin in 1995 and 1998-99 Outstanding Faculty Member (Part-Time) by College of Marin. Last year, Cantarutti appeared in the PBS milestone documentary series “The Italian Americans,” offering commentary on his family’s experiences as non-U.S. citizens in the Bay Area during World War II. 

As with past honorees, Cantarutti was selected by the Cultural Services Commission and will be recognized by the Marin County Board of Supervisors. The award recipients receive a Resolution of Appreciation from the Supervisors, are honored at a reception prior to a Marin Center Presents performance, and are recognized on a plaque in the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium Green Room.

Past winners of the Marin Cultural Treasure Award have included arts and culture reporter Paul Liberatore; cartoonist Phil Frank; philanthropist Henry Moody; Jeanne Bogardus, Marin Arts Council leader; Phyllis Thelen, artist and long-time cultural leader; West Marin photographer Art Rogers; cultural leader Joann Dunn; community leader Felecia Gaston of Performing Stars of Marin and most recently, fine art painters Kathleen Lipinski and Steve Emery.


Gabriella C. Calicchio
Department of Cultural Services

Marin Center
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6400
Email: Gabriella C. Calicchio
Cultural Services Website