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Locarno festival discoveries

Event bestowed awards on now-famous filmmakers

In the early years, the Locarno Film Festival presented awards to well-established helmers, such as John Ford. But looking back over its 60-year history, the fest bestowed kudos on many now-famous international filmmakers who were on their way up. A selection:

1958: Freshman helmer Claude Chabrol wins best director for “Le beau Serge” (“Bitter Reunion”), launching the French New Wave on the international scene.

1959: Stanley Kubrick picks up best director for his second feature, the film noir “Killer’s Kiss” (1955), marking his first major fest award.

1964: “Het Feest” wins best short, directed by a 26-year-old Dutchman named Paul Verhoeven.

1964: The Silver Sail for best first feature goes to “Age of Illusions,” directed by Istvan Szabo.

1972: Mike Leigh’s first feature, “Bleak Moments,” already exhibiting his trademark wrenching yet humorous style, wins top prize.

1983: Spike Lee, 26, receives the Bronze Leopard for his film school thesis featurette “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads.”

1985: Chen Kaige‘s first feature, “Yellow Earth,” with Zhang Yimou as d.p., wins the Silver Leopard, ushering in worldwide status for China’s Fifth Generation filmmakers.

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