Locarno’s new artistic director Carlo Chatrian to continue festival’s “idea of cinema as a meeting place and act of discovery” as he unveils plans to dedicate the 2013 retrospective to George Cukor and announces a reshuffle of selection committee.

Locarno’s new artistic director Carlo Chatrian has revealed that he wants to hold true to the festival’s “idea of cinema as a meeting place and act of discovery“ as he unveiled plans this week to dedicate the 2013 retrospective to George Cukor and announced a reshuffle of the selection committee.

In an interview, Chatrian, who was appointed as successor to Olivier Père, explained that, “in the last years, I believe that the festival found an effective formula to find its place on the festival circuit, but, mainly, to be able to express its own identity.“”

“I hope to be able to carry on the idea of cinema as a meeting place and as an act of discovery,” he continued, pointing out that he would also want to carry on Locarno’s duty to highlight new cinematographies or to offer a reassessment of chapters of cinema history and their relevance for the present.

“I hope to bring movies that provoke discussion, that amazes the audience as I was when I crossed the lake for the first tine to see the Piazza Grande and the other screens.” Chatrian noted.

Describing the Piazza Grande as “perhaps the most beautiful cinema in the world,” he said that the open-air venue “is a challenge for any Locarno director” because of the need to put a programme together which would appeal to both the cineastes and the general audience.

The selection committee for the 66th edition – which will run from August 7-17 – will have Canadian film critic Mark Peranson appointed as Head of Programming, accompanied by three other critics, Italian Lorenzo Esposito, Paris-born Aurélie Godet and Germany-based Italian Sergio Fant.

Peranson had already served as a programmer in Locarno since 2010, and Fant had been appointed this year as a member of the Leopards of Tomorrow selection committee and consultant for experimental and artists’ films.

Meanwhile, Nadia Dresti, delegate to the artistic directorate and head of the Industry Office, has been appointed Head of International.

Turning to the choice of George Cukor as the subject of next year’s Retrospective, Chatrian explained that the festival had decided to continue the “journey” which begun in the past three years with the retrospectives of the works of Ernst Lubitsch, Vincente Minelli and, this year, Otto Preminger.

“I decided to continue with a very Hollywood director,” he said, describing the director of such films as My Fair Lady, The Philadelphia Story and A Star Is Born as “a great comedy director and considered the master of directing women, but also [someone] who discovered such actors as Cary Grant as well as Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Anna Magnani or Jane Fonda.”

Looking back to his first visits to Locarno as a critic in the mid-1990s, Chatrian recalled that he had been surprised by Marco Muller’s “freedom of scheduling mainstream titles such as Mulan and There’s Something About Mary besides more demanding features such as Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s feature film or an underground master like Jonas Mekas, or an insight into a prolific author of experimental or reflective cinema like the German Harun Farocki.”

He argued that the role of Locarno nowadays is “discovering new talents of today, but also of tomorrow“ and suggested that the “main mission“ is “being able to exhibit in the same place the mainstream cinema, the blockbuster, the genre and auteur films, non-fiction and documentary films, all of the cinema’s in a well-rounded festival.“