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"Fantasy" premiere to inaugurate Locarno Festival

Irene Bignardi, the festival's new director, has chosen films from all over the world for the Locarno line-up

(Irene Bignardi, the festival's new director, has chosen films from all over the world for the Locarno line-up)

Preparations for this year's Locarno Film Festival have stepped up, as Irene Bignardi, the event's new director, announced the festival's line-up.

The festival opens on August 2 with the world première of "Final Fantasy", a state-of-the-art American animated film. It closes on August 12 with Baz Luhrmann's acclaimed "Moulin Rouge". On August 10 Tim Burton's remake of "Planet of the Apes," expected to be the summer blockbuster, will première in the Piazza Grande.

Bignardi and her team have chosen films from all over the world -- from Korea to Senegal and France to Japan. A special event pays tribute to the influence of Asian filmmaking, with a montage entitled "Out of the Shadows."

This year marks Italian-born Bignardi's first time at the helm of Switzerland's biggest film festival after she took over from Marco Müller last November. A film devotee for most of her life, she has also spent many years as a respected film critic.

Golden Leopard award

Although careful not to alter the formula which has made the festival successful, Bignardi has made some changes, adding the Asian feature and insisting that films competing for the coveted Golden Leopard award for best film should all be shown in the same size cinema.

In the past some competing films were screened in the Piazza Grande, which has a seating capacity of 10,000, while others were confined to the Fevi theatre, with its audience capacity of 3,000.

This year`s competition boasts 19 films, 14 of them premiering in Locarno. Switzerland has two films in the running, Thomas Imbach's "Happiness is a warm gun" and Ricardo Signorelli's "Sheherazade".

Teresa Cavina, deputy director of the festival, told swissinfo that Locarno will see its fair share of film glitterati.

"Chen Kaige, a great filmmaker will be here, along with Peter Bogdanovic with his strong sense of humour," she said, "and maybe at the end of the day we will also have the surprise of Tim Burton being among us."

The festival will also pay particular attention to video and digital films, with the rock star P. J. Harvey sitting on the jury for this category.

by Sally Mules


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