ROME -- The 67th Locarno Film Festival has unveiled a promising lineup, which sees particularly strong presences from both North and South America, more established auteurs competing alongside lots of newcomers, and a distinct diversity of genres and styles that is becoming the trademark of artistic director Carlo Chatrian, now at his second edition.
As previously announced, the Swiss fest dedicated to indie and innovative cinema in its different forms will open with Luc Besson's Scarlett Johansson-starrer "Lucy," launching out-of-competition from Locarno's 8,000 seat open-air Piazza Grande venue on Aug. 7, shortly after the English-language sci-fi thriller bows Stateside July 25 via Universal.
Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, which turns on a displaced family from India who open a restaurant in the South of France. This DreamWorks/Participant Media crowdpleaser starring Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal will be released on Aug. 8 in the U.S. via Touchstone.
U.S.-Icelandic road comedy "Land Ho!," by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, which Sony Pictures Classics picked up at Sundance, will also be launching from the Piazza Grande, among other entries. Katz was at Locarno in 2010 with "Cold Weather."
Piazza Grande titles will compete for the Prix du Public audience award, and also for the Variety Piazza Grande Award given by Variety critics to the best fest title launching from Europe's largest open-air venue, and combining artistic excellence and commercial potential.
Special guests being feted this year with nods and retros include Mia Farrow, Juliette Binoche, Agnes Varda, Dario Argento and Armin Mueller-Stahl.
The main competish sees U.S. helmer Alex Perry's Schwartzman-starrer "Listen Up Philip," with Perry, Schwartzman and co-star Jonathan Pryce in tow, bowing internationally after its Sundance preem, and also includes the latest from American documaker J.P. Sniadecki, a Locarno regular, who is coming with his China-set "The Iron Ministry" about people who basically live on trains in China.
U.S. indie darling Joel Potrykus is instead competing in Locarno's Filmmakers of the Present section with his "Buzzard," starring Joshua Burge as a disaffected temp, unspooling in the competitive section alongside ultra-indie Kickstarter-funded "Christmas, Again," by Charles Poekel, about a Christmas tree vendor in New York, and also vying with "Songs from the North" by U.S.-based North Korean director Soon-Mi Yoo, whose pic provides a view of largely unexplored North Korea.
The copious South American contingent includes "Two Gun Shots," the first feature in a decade from Martin Rejtman, who is among founders of the so-called New Argentine Cinema; fellow Argentine Matias Pineiro's "The Princess of France"; "Ventos De Agosto" from Brazilian helmer Gabriel Mascaro ("High-Rise"), all in the main competish; and also the apocalyptic "Navajazo," by Mexican first-timer Ricardo Silva, screening in Filmmakers of the Present.
Well-known auteurs returning to Locarno include Portugal's Pedro Costa, coming with "Cavalo Dinheiro"; Filipino auteur Lav Diaz, with "From What is Before" ("Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon"); Gaul's prolific Paul Vecchiali, with "Nuits blanches sur la jetee"; and Paris-based but U.S.-bred Eugene Green who is bringing his Italy-shot "La Sapienza," inspired by the life and work of daring 17th-century architect Francesco Borromini. These are all in competition. The large majority of titles competing are world preems.
Heading the main competition jury is Italian helmer Gianfranco Rosi whose docu "Sacro GRA," won the 2013 Venice Golden Lion.
Further guests include Melanie Griffith, Olivier Assayas, Luc Besson, Garrett Brown, Suzanne Clement, Pedro Costa, Julie Depardieu, Lav Diaz, Victor Erice, Florian David Fitz, Hippolyte Girardot, Fernand Melgar, Rita Pavone, Matias Pineiro, Martin Rejtman, Eran Riklis, Nansun Shi, Aleksandr Sokurov, Andrea Staka, Agnes Varda and Paul Vecchiali.
2014 LOCARNO LINEUP
"A Hitman's Solitude Before the Shot," Florian Mischa Boder, Germany
"A La Vie," Jean-Jacques Zilbermann, France
"Dancing Arabs," Eran Riklis, Israel
"Geronimo," Tony Gatlif, France
"Hin Und Weg," Christian Zubert, Germany