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Locarno chief unspools her resignation

Bignardi ankles as film fest topper

LONDON — Following persistent rumors that she wanted to make this year’s Locarno Film Festival her last as artistic director, Irene Bignardi finally handed in her resignation to fest prexy Marco Solari Thursday.

“No great mystery, no great conflicts,” Bignardi told Daily Variety. “I’m just looking forward to a rest and spending time doing other things.”

When hired in 2000, Bignardi said she would fulfill her three-year contract and then stay on for another year or so. This year’s fest will be her fifth at the artistic helm at the veteran Swiss-Italian event.

Bignardi brought stability to the fest after the turbulent final years of her predecessor, Marco Mueller. She also broadened its scope to make it more of a cultural salon, with sidebars focusing on writers, civil rights, emergent Third World cinemas and so on.

Now 62, Bignardi has no plans to jump into another festival job. “If, in a couple of years’ time, someone were to offer me one, then of course I’d consider it,” she added.

It’s no secret she long coveted the Venice fest’s artistic directorship, which finally went a year ago to fellow Italian Mueller.

A longtime journalist for left-wing Italian daily La Repubblica, Bignardi will continue to do book reviews and other cultural pieces for the newspaper.

She also has a new book coming out in two weeks, “Americani,” a collection of her writings on American culture over the past 30 years.

“But first I still have a festival to put together,” she told Daily Variety, confirming that over half of the 18-title competition was already inked.

The fest hopes to have the new director announced by the start of this year’s event, which runs Aug. 3-13 in the Swiss lakeside town. Officially, Bignardi will play no role in choosing her successor.

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