ROMEThe Locarno Film Festival will fete Otar Iosseliani with a career Golden Leopard celebrating the Soviet-born auteur who has lived in France since the ’80s. Iosseliani, known as a master with a distinctive wit and delicate flair for the absurd, will also be on hand for an onstage conversation at the Swiss fest dedicated to indie filmmaking. A selection of his pics will screen, comprising “There Once was a Singing Blackbird” (1970); “Pastoral” (1975); “Brigands — Chapter VII”(1996); and “Chantrapas” (2010). After studying film and music in Moscow, and making several films in his native Georgia, Iosseliani fled to France in the early 1980s due to censorship and conflict with Soviet authorities. New Locarno artistic topper Carlo Chatrian praised Iosseliani’s work as a “hymn to freedom.” Chatrian added that the nod is the fest’s first step toward honoring “personal voices that characterize contemporary cinema.” Partly shot in Georgia, the quasi-autobiographical “Chantrapas” was the former Soviet republic’s foreign-Oscar candidate in 2010. Locarno’s Open Doors co-production mart will focus on films from Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan this year. This dovetails with honoring Iosseliani’s work, organizers said. The 66th edition of Locarno will run Aug. 7-17.