Locarno film festival unveils nominees
The organisers of the Locarno film festival have revealed the nominations for this year's competition, which runs from August 2-12.
The festival will be awarding an honorary leopard award to Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven, in recognition of his work, which includes the raunchy American blockbuster, "Basic Instinct" (1992).
Announcing the 19 films which will be competing for awards in the 53rd festival, the director, Marco Müller, said there were two themes common to this year's entries: "social problems and romantic encounters in everyday situations."
Swiss eyes will be focusing on the Swiss/Italian co-production "Azzurro". Directed by Denis Rabaglia and starring Paolo Villaggio, Jean-Luc Bideau and Marie-Christine Barrault in the lead roles, the story centres on an Italian family that emigrates to Switzerland.
Other films, which have attracted attention ahead of their international premiers, are the French production "Baise Moi" and the Franco-Vietnamese documentary "Mua Oi - La Saison des Goyaves".
"Baise Moi" has caused a storm of protest in France and was banned for its explicit sexual content, which is said to verge on pornography. Müller denied the Locarno jury was using the film as an attention-grabber, saying the film had been chosen its "hard realism".
Müller said the festival was particularly pleased to include the first showing of the documentary "Mua Oi - La Saison des Goyaves". The film tells the story of the French involvement in the Indochinese wars using exclusive film footage from the Vietnamese state archives.
This year Locarno Festival has a particularly local flavour, with the so-called "Appellations Suisse" section. Eight films, selected by the jury for their popularity in 1999 and this year, will be screened in this category, which has been included, said Müller, to show that "the Swiss film is alive and well. There are plenty of new trends. Most importantly - the strength of our festival depends on the strength of our national cinema."
The festival also has a number of technical surprises in store. One is the e-cinema, which will allow visitors to view CD Roms and films directly on the Internet.
Visitors will also be able to buy portable mini-radios for around SFr10, which will enable to keep up-to-date with what's going on at the festival. The projection system on the Piazza Grande has also been given a SFr200,000 facelift.
by Greg Morsbach
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