Locarno fest topper segues to TV role

Locarno Film Festival artistic topper Olivier Pere has ankled to become managing director of Arte France Cinema, the film division of Franco-German net Arte.

Unexpected move leaves the top job vacant at the prominent Swiss fest, which has called a board meeting for Sept. 4 to discuss a possible successor.

Pere served as the fest’s artistic topper for three years, after a successful run as topper of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight from 2004 to 2009. During his time at Locarno, Pere positioned it as a solid launchpad for edgier arthouse films whose commercial prospect were lower than the crossover fare often favored by toppers at other high-profile festivals.

In a statement Locarno prexy Marco Solari said: “I am very grateful to Olivier Pere for the work he did in these three years, consolidating Locarno’s standing in the international fest arena.”

Pere said: “I leave the festival with deep sadness, but also immense satisfaction for the job I did at Locarno.”

Arte’s film unit is a powerful backer of indie cinema. It co-finances and co-produces a large number of films that play in top international festivals. Its recent co-productions include Argentina helmer Pablo Trapero’s “White Elephant” and Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye’s “Mystery.”

Pere will succeed Michel Reilhac, who spent a decade at the org. Pere will report to Veronique Cayla.

Pere is also part of the selection committee for the Advance on Receipt, the funding program set up by France’s national film board, the CNC.

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