Pic marks English language debut for Italian helmer

ROME — Italian author Alessandro Baricco’s English-language directorial debut “Lesson 21,” will world preem at the upcoming 61st Locarno International Film Festival with stars Noah Taylor, Clive Russell, Leonor Watling, and John Hurt expected in tow.

Inspired by Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and produced by Domenico Procacci’s Fandango in association with RAI Cinema, “Lesson 21” is about a student (Taylor) blown away by a potent lecture about the peace-themed ode, delivered by a mad music professor (Hurt).

Eclectic pic partly shot in the snowy Italian alps, marks a rare case of an Italo work in English starring no local thesps in lead roles. It will unspool on Locarno’s 8,500-seat Piazza Grande on a still undecided date.

While several of Baricco’s international bestsellers have been made into movies — most recently Picturehouse’s Keira Knightley-starrer “Silk,” helmed by Francois Girard — this one is based on unpublished material by the scribe.

Previously announced titles set to unspool during the August 6-16 Swiss lakeside fest include the European preem of black comedy “Choke” by yank first-timer Clark Gregg, with star Angelica Huston expected on the Piazza Grande where she will be feted with a career nod.

The full Locarno lineup will be announced July 17.

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