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Swiss town of Locarno becomes this August’s cinema capital

LOCARNO, Switzerland: The Locarno Film Festival is perhaps the world’s most discreet, but also among the most glamorous, held in a small Swiss town every summer on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

Between Aug. 1-11, the 65th edition of the festival will welcome such celebrities as singers Kylie Minogue and Harry Belafonte, and screen stars Ornella Muti, Charlotte Rampling and Alain Delon, who will rub shoulders with the public in the Piazza Grande.

This immense square in the center of Locarno, bordered by historic palaces and arcades, nightly becomes a vast open-air cinema with a giant screen, where almost 8,000 people can watch a film after dark.

In 2012, the Locarno festival, which has found its annual slot between Cannes in May and Venice in late August, will present about 300 films, many of them to be shown in a dozen cinemas in the town.

The large number of movies is due to extensive tributes paid to actors such as Delon, as well as this year’s retrospective devoted to the Austrian-born U.S. director Otto Preminger (1905-1986).

The artistic director, Frenchman Olivier Pere, will be presenting his third selection, which includes 19 films vying in international competition for the prized Golden Leopard, 13 of them in world premieres.

Highlights of the films in competition include “Magic Mike” by Steven Soderbergh, with Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey, “Bachelorette” by Leslye Headland with Kirsten Dunst, “No” by Pablo Larain, with Gael Garicai Bernal, and “Ruby Sparks” by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris with Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening.

The film set to open the festival on Aug. 1 in the Piazza Grande is “The Sweeney” by England’s Nick Love, which is not in competition. The movie is a big-screen revival of a renowned TV police series from the 1960s.

The festival will this year pay tribute to several directors and actors. The Leopard of Honour will be awarded to French filmmaker Leos Carax, while Rampling is lined up for the Excellence Award, to crown a career’s work.

An Otto Preminger retrospective has been prepared with the help of the Swiss and French film archives, and will feature actors coming to talk about their work with the director, including Belafonte (“Carmen Jones” in 1954) and Mylene Demongeot (“Bonjour Tristesse” in 1958).

This year’s jury will be headed by Thai director and screen-writer, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 42, who won the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2010.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 01, 2012, on page 16.
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