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Populist panorama

Bignardi bows out with tight Locarno contest

View list of competing films

LONDON — The tightest competition in memory plus a slightly more populist feel to its panorama section mark the final selection of outgoing Locarno Film Festival topper Irene Bignardi. Slate was announced Wednesday.

Swiss-Italian lakeside fest opens Aug. 3 with the world preem in the town’s Piazza Grande of Ketan Mehta’s “The Rising,” an epic Bollywood drama centered on a failed anti-Brit mutiny in 1857. Fest closes Aug. 13 with Robert Altman’s 1975 classic “Nashville,” a favorite of Bignardi’s, in the presence of one of its stars, Geraldine Chaplin.

Competition has 15 titles, down from the usual 19-20 choices. Bignardi told Daily Variety she felt it better to have a “stronger hardcore” of movies that really moved her rather than program pics for the sake of it. Selection is particularly heavy on European and Central Asian/Near East fare.

Of the 15, 12 are world preems, led by U.K. helming duo the Quay Bros.’ “The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes,” Italian Antonio Capuano’s Neapolitan street kids’ drama “La guerra di Mario” and Rituparno Ghosh’s Indian family ensembler “The Views of the Inner Chamber.”

Two Sundance titles also slug it out for the fest’s Golden and Silver Leopards: Dave McKean’s “Mirrormask” and Rodrigo Garcia’s distaff ensembler “Nine Lives.” Receiving its international preem is the Spanish musical “20 Centimeters,” a sex romp by Ramon Salazar that Bignardi sees as a potential commercial breakout. Title refers to the transsexual hero’s troublesome appendage.

Fest’s open-air Piazza Grande screenings are a mix of tributes to directors receiving honorary awards — Abbas Kiarostami, Wim Wenders, Jeremy Thomas and Vittorio Storaro — plus Sundance titles “Murderball,” “On a Clear Day” and “Rize,” and a smattering of preems, led by Moroccan Arabian-Nights epic “Zaina, cavaliere de l’Atlas.”

The pic to be screened in honor of awardee Terry Gilliam has yet to be announced.

Fest lost out on one world preem, Marc Forster’s horror pic “Stay,” with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, produced by New Regency and distribbed by Fox. “We’re very disappointed at the cancellation,” Bignardi said, “especially as Forster was happy for it to show in Locarno.” Fest earlier preemed helmer’s “My Little Eye” in the Piazza.

Locarno’s de facto panorama section, Filmmakers of the Present, contains more mainstream fare than usual, including Steve Buscemi’s “Lonesome Jim” (also at Sundance) and the world preem of Mary McGuckian’s tabloid-world romancer “Rag Tale,” starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ian Hart and Malcolm McDowell.

Celeb list is still to be firmed, though John Malkovich will be on hand to receive an Excellence Award and hold a Variety Masterclass on acting.

As well as being Bignardi’s final year, fest also will say arrivederci to deputy director Teresa Cavina, who is quitting after more than a decade at Locarno.

LOCARNO LINEUP

COMPETITION

“3 Grad Kaelter,” Germany, Florian Hoffmeister
“20 Centimeters,” Spain, Ramon Salazar
“The Views of the Inner Chamber,” India, Rituparno Ghosh
“Un couple parfait,” Japan-France, Nobuhiro Suwa
“Fratricide,” Germany-Luxembourg-France, Yilmaz Arslan
“La guerra di Mario,” Italy, Antonio Capuano
“Keller: Teenage Wasteland,” Austria-Germany-Italy, Eva Urthaler
“We Are All Fine,” Iran, Bizhan Mirbagheri
“Mirrormask,” U.K.-U.S., Dave McKean
“La neuvaine,” Canada, Bernard Emond
“Nine Lives,” U.S., Rodrigo Garcia
“A Perfect Day,” Lebanon-France, Joanna Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige
“The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes,” U.K.-Germany-France, Quay Brothers
“Riviera,” France, Anne Villaceque
“Snow White,” Switzerland-Austria, Samir

OUT OF COMPETITION

“Face Addict,” Italy-Switzerland, Edo Bertoglio

PIAZZA GRANDE

“Being John Malkovich” (1999), U.S., Spike Jonze
“Don’t Come Knocking,” Germany-U.S., Wim Wenders
“The Flyer,” S. Africa-Sweden, Revel Fox
“Citizen Dog,” Thailand-France, Wisit Sasanatieng
“Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” (1983), Japan-U.K.-New Zealand, Nagisa Oshima
“Murderball,” U.S., Dana Adam Shapiro, Henry Alex Rubin
“Nashville” (1975) (closer), U.S., Robert Altman
“On a Clear Day,” U.K., Gaby Dellal
“One from the Heart” (1982), U.S., Francis Ford Coppola
“Rize,” U.S., David LaChapelle
“The Rising” (opener), India, Ketan Mehta
“Zaina, cavaliere de l’Atlas,” France-Germany, Bourlem Guerdjou
“Through the Olive Trees” (1994), France-Iran, Abbas Kiarostami

FILMMAKERS OF THE PRESENT

“9m2 pour deux,” France, Joseph Cesarini, Jimmy Glasberg
“L’accord,” Switzerland, Nicolas Wadimoff
“Delo osvobaja,” Slovenia, Damjan Kozole
“En la cama,” Chile, Matias Bize
“Frankie,” France, Fabienne Berthaud
“Fuori vena,” Italy, Tekla Taidelli
“Gas,” Italy, Luciano Melchionna
“The Giant Buddhas,” Switzerland, Christian Frei
“Gisela,” Germany, Isabelle Stever
“Historias del desecanto,” Mexico, Alejandro Valle, Felipe Gomez
“In un altro paese,” Italy-France, Marco Turco
“Lonesome Jim,” U.S., Steve Buscem
“Monobloc,” Argentina, Luis Ortega
“Nuit noire,” Belgium-Netherlands, Olivier Smolders
“Passenger,” France-Canada-Japan, Francois Rotger
“Rag Tale,” U.K., Mary McGuckian
“Sangue: La morte non esiste,” Italy, Libero De Rienzo
“White Terror,” Switzerland-France-Germany-Finland, Daniel Schwizer

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