ROME — Actor Harvey Keitel is to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Locarno Film Festival in recognition of the way he represents “the various animating spirits of that indie cinema we hold so dear,” artistic director Carlo Chatrian said in a statement Monday.
The U.S. actor and producer will be making the trek to the prominent Swiss event dedicated to cutting-edge cinema for a tribute that will include an open-air screening of Wayne Wang’s “Smoke,” in which Keitel makes a memorable speech out of Paul Auster’s “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story,” the inspiration for the film. “Smoke” will screen Aug. 6 on Locarno’s 8,000-seat Piazza Grande. The pic won the fest’s audience award in 1995. Keitel will hold an onstage conversation on Aug. 7.
Keitel, who debuted playing a tough guy from New York’s Little Italy in Martin Scorsese’s first feature, “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” (1967), went on to work with Scorsese on “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver.” He has appeared in many films helmed by acclaimed directors, including Ridley Scott’s 1977 debut “The Duelists” and later in Scott’s “Thelma & Louise”; Abel Ferrara’s “The Bad Lieutenant”; Jane Campion’s “The Piano”; and Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction,” among others.
In praising Keitel’s work, Chatrian called him the “heart of a New York City throbbing with multi-ethnic humanity.” Chatrian said that “Harvey Keitel has recounted an America that is both violent and vulnerable, self-ironizing and committed.”
In its statement on Keitel, Locarno, which is located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, also underlined his work with Italian directors, including Ettore Scola, on “That Night in Varennes,” Lina Wertmuller, Dario Argento, and most recently with Paolo Sorrentino, on “Youth.”
The 69th edition of the 10-day fest kicks off Aug. 3 with the world premiere of Scottish director Colm McCarthy’s zombie thriller “The Girl with All the Gifts,” starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and newcomer Sennia Nanua.