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Locarno Film Festival reveals its programme

Bignardi is leaving after five years as the Locarno festival director

(Keystone)

Fifteen films, including one Swiss, will compete for the Leopard awards at this year’s Locarno Film Festival, which takes place between August 3 and 13.

The event, in the southern canton of Ticino, is to continue to receive financing from the Federal Culture Office, which will contribute SFr3.6 million ($2.82 million) over the next three years.

With slightly fewer films being shown "the competition is a little more concentrated this year", festival artistic director Irene Bignardi told a news conference in Bern on Tuesday.

Bignardi, who is stepping down after five years, spoke of a "particularly complex and tough year for international productions".

She said it had been very difficult to find films written and directed by the same person.

Piazza Grande

There are 15 films from 13 countries in competition, and 14 films from nine countries being shown in Locarno’s main square, the Piazza Grande.

Twelve entries competing for the coveted Leopard awards and two being shown on the Piazza are being premiered.

Switzerland will be represented in competition with the film Snow White directed by Samir from Zurich.

But Nine Lives featuring Glenn Close and Holly Hunter is considered the most prominent entry.

On the Piazza Grande, film fans can watch two productions from India, including the 160-minute Bollywood production The Rising with Aamir Khan, who in 2001 played the title role in the Piazza success film Lagaan.

This year, the festival organisers have taken what they call an "exceptional" step in awarding the Leopard of Honour to three directors – Wim Wenders, Abbas Kiarostami and Terry Gilliam.

Retrospective

And the festival, now in its 58th year, will feature a retrospective of the work of Orson Welles, showing 75 films.

In renewing its contribution to the festival, the Federal Culture Office in Bern said that SFr1.2 million per year represented 12 per cent of the festival budget and half the amount the office had available for Swiss film festivals.

"This large financial contribution shows the importance of this festival, one of the major cultural events in our country," a communiqué said.

Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin and the director of the Federal Culture Office, Jean-Frédéric Jauslin, will visit the festival during its first weekend.

Accompanied by the new head of the office’s cinema section, Nicolas Bideau, they will give a news conference on August 5 which will deal with new directions in Swiss film policy.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The 58th Locarno Film Festival takes place from August 3 to 13.
Fifteen films will be in competition, while 14 are being shown on the Piazza Grande.
Directors Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame, Abbas Kiarostami (Iran) and Wim Wenders (Germany) will receive the Leopard of Honour.
Actor John Malkovich (United States) and director Vittorio Storaro (Italy) will receive an award for excellence.

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In brief

After two years of thematic retrospectives, Locarno is this year devoting this year’s retrospective to Orson Welles.

The festival will end with the screening of Nashville, directed 30 years ago by Robert Altman.

This year’s event is the last with Irene Bignardi as artistic director. Her successor will be announced on the final day.

The government will continue to subsidise the event with SFr3.6 million over the next three years.

Nicolas Bideau, the government’s new "Mr Cinema" will also attend. Bideau will become head of the Federal Culture Office’s cinema section from October. The Geneva diplomat was nominated to the post earlier this week.

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