Fest focuses on actresses

ROME — The Locarno Film Festival is assembling a strong Italian component for its upcoming edition, which will honor the grand dames of cinema Italiano, from Alida Valli to Asia Argento, alongside plans to launch copious contempo Italo fare.

Locarno’s 20-pic retro titled “Signore e Signore” (Ladies and Ladies) will comprise freshly restored copies of classics and more recent Italo pics propelled by powerful femme leads.

They include Anna Magnani starrer “Bellissima,” by Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica’s “La Ciociara” (Two Women), which won Sophia Loren an Oscar, and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Malena,” which launched Monica Bellucci’s international career.

Prior to unspooling in Locarno, the “Signore” tribute, curated by Italo film journo Piera Detassis in collaboration with Cinecitta Holding, will screen in July at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Locarno artistic director Frederic Maire, in Rome for the Swiss event’s customary Swiss Embassy cocktail, said his selection for Locarno’s upcoming 60th edition will feature lots of fresh Italo pics, especially docus, similarly to last year when Agostino Ferrente’s “The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio,” about a Roman multi-ethnic band, world-preemed on Locarno’s Piazza Grande en route to a slew of nods and a Tribeca slot.

While Maire said Locarno’s current Italo selection is still underway, his reiterated accent on Italy is significant due to stepped up competition from the new RomeFilmFest and the beefed-up Torino Film Festival.

“We continue to see ourselves as a prime observatory of Italian cinema of all types — especially cutting-edge and indie films,” Maire told Daily Variety.

Located in the Italian-speaking portion of Switzerland, the lakeside fest runs Aug. 1-11.

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