CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Foreign Language, Other Festivals, Cinematical Indie, CinematicalWednesday marks the kick-off of the 60th anniversary of the film festival in Locarno, located on Lake Maggiore in the southern part of Switzerland (nearest to Italy). The signature event of the festival is the Piazza Grande program, where up to 8,000 people can watch one or two movies each night on a giant screen in the open air. If, like me, you're stuck at home, they have a webcam set up to make you jealous. The picturesque setting looks like a really fun way to see Knocked Up, The Bourne Ultimatum, or Hairspray. Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's full blown 105-minute version of his Grindhouse segment, will be shown, along with a warning: "Some scenes might hurt spectators feelings." But there are also screenings of Hou Hsiao-hsien's Flight of the Red Balloon, Luchino Visconti's 1951 Bellissima, the world premiere of Kenneth Bi's The Drummer, documentaries, short films and other non-Hollywood fare.
Of the 19 films in the International Competition, 13 are world premieres and 11 are by first or second-time filmmakers. I've already written about Thieves, from Spain; there's also Anthony Hopkins' intensely personal Slipstream, George Ratliff's critically-berated Joshua and Masahiro Kobayashi's newest, The Rebirth. Extraordinary Rendition, from the UK, has an explosive subject: the kidnapping of terrorist suspects by the CIA. Argentine director Sandra Gugliotta, who previously made the starkly affecting drama A Lucky Day, returns with another personal drama, Las Vidas Posibles. In the other sections, stand-outs include Chris Fuller's exciting youth drama Loren Cass, which played at CineVegas and earned a rave review in Variety. With so many world premieres and generally less-heralded films in the program, I'm hoping that a few more will break out and get some good reviews so we can learn more about them. The Locarno festival runs from August 1-11.