The “Blues Brothers” and “American Werewolf in London” director will be presented with the award on the last day of the August festival’s 74th outing. It will be presented to him at the Festival’s Forum talk venue, before he joins an audience-based panel discussion.
Landis’ career spans a range of genres, although comedy is a common thread – from the irreverent, biting satire of “National Lampoon” and “Saturday Night Live”– via the cult movies that brought him auteur status in the ‘80s and ‘90s, such as “The Blues Brothers” and “An American Werewolf in London,” the festival said in a statement Monday.
The latter attracted the attention of late pop singer Michael Jackson, who hired Landis to direct his groundbreaking 1983 music video “Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” it noted.
To mark the occasion of the award, which in the past has been bestowed upon Bernardo Bertolucci, Ken Loach, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog and Agnès Varda, Locarno will screen three of Landis’ landmark titles: “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, “Trading Places” and “Innocent Blood”.
The Locarno Film Festival’s artistic director Giona A Nazzaro hailed Landis as a “genuine American genius” with “an all-consuming cinephile passion.”
“He [Landis] hybridized horror and comedy, musical and noir, in a way never seen before. The resulting masterpieces captured enthusiastic audiences around the world, drawn by his fresh new filmic language and the challenges to conventional morality,” he said.
He added that Landis “provided a vector for the anxieties of the ‘60s generation, giving them a new interpretation and creating a new kind of comedy merged with mutant physicality, which – from John Belushi to the werewolves – rewrote the dominant aesthetic code.”
Landis will be joined at the festival by his costume designer spouse, Deborah Nadoolman Landis (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) – also a UCLA professor – who will hold an open-to-the-public masterclass on costume design.
The 74th Locarno Film Festival – which runs from Aug. 14 – is aiming to take place onsite, in compliance with official health and sanitary guidelines.