"We are not here for promoting films, but to make a festival", festival director Irene Bignardi declared in response to BVI Switzerland Roger Crotti's criticisms early this week of the Piazza Grande open-air programme and of the absence of glamour at the festival.

In an exclusive interview with ScreenDaily.com, Bignardi observed that Crotti "himself, while complaining about the absence of stars from the festival, in the end did not succeed to bring to Locarno the stars of his film, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters."

"At any rate, we have had our stars in Locarno this year", Bignardi continued. "What about Matthew Barney, Ennio Morricone, Ken Loach, Ettore Scola, Nelofar Pasira, Elie Suleiman, Ashwarya Rai, just to name a few' These are 'our' stars of a festival focused on discoveries and quality, which believes that the films and brilliant creative people are the real stars."

Answering Crotti's suggestion that the festival could have attracted people like Tina Turner and George Clooney, Bignardi countered that she did "not see Locarno's main purpose being in bringing stars who are not related to the films we present: we are not a catwalk or a mundane event. We are a popular, open, passionate film festival where the public is more interested in the quality of films or in the discovery of new themes and issues than in brushing with celebrities."

Moreover, she claimed that the so-called blockbusters available this year were "not gigantic, contrary to what Roger Crotti says. Either the films were released more or less on the same dates or they were not films for a festival even if its main venue is in the open air. But, most importantly, the distributors cannot expect that the directorate of the festival or our experts around the world take films without having seen them, just because they are blockbusters or because they have stars."