Young women searching for their place in life is a major theme of a number of films in the second Locarno competition under the direction of Irene Bignardi - from Michael Hofmann's Sophiiie and Andrea Dusl's Blue Moon to Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity and Dorothee Van Den Berghe's Meisje (Girl).

Even before the first weekend was over, critics were touting the lead actresses of Sophiiie, Blue Moon and Girl - Katharina Schuettler (pictured), Viktoria Malektorovich, and Charlotte Vanden Eynde respectively - as strong candidates for the Best Actress Leopard.

Moreover, early on, Blue Moon became a fast seller for sales agent First Hand Films with deals concluded with Ventura Film (Germany), Monopole Pathe (Switzerland), BIM (Italy), and "concrete negotiations" underway with Contact Film for the Netherlands. In addition, Meisje (Girl) is likely to have secured an international sales agent after its showing in Locarno

While this year's line-up for the International Competition has been well received, there has been general disappointment about the films programmed for the Piazza Grande nightly open-air screenings. The criticisms have ranged from lack of focus to a seemingly arbitrary selection. Marc Evans' shocker My Little Eye (see review) drew boos from the audience, while other films such as Pavel Lounguine's Un Nouveau Russe and Jean-Pierre Limosin's Novo seemed out of place on Europe's largest outdoor screen.

However, something of the magic of Piazza Grande presentations from previous years was evoked on Tuesday evening with the world premiere of the French animation feature film Corto Maltese (pictured), based on Hugo Pratt's famous comic strip drawings.

Stars have admittedly been thin on the ground, although Locarno is not traditionally on the radar of the Hollywood publicity machine. Nevertheless, the 55th edition has hosted such directors as Sydney Pollack (who received Leopard of Honour for his work at the weekend), Gus van Sant, Nanni Moretti, and such actors as Rupert Everett, Fred Ward, Eddie Izzard, and Eduardo Noriega.