On the eve of the 60th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival, the future of the event's financial standing is in the headlines.
Speaking to the Swiss daily newspaper Tagblatt, Locarno's artistic director Frederic Maire explained: 'We must increase the budget to around $9.1m (11m CHF). We hope that we can reach this with additional sponsors, the new club of patrons, and higher contributions from the government. I don't know whether this will be successful. If the subsidies are cut, this would call the festival into question.'
Maire compared Locarno's current budget of $8.3m (CHF 10m) with the $13.7m-$27m (Euros 10m-20m) for such competing festivals as Venice, Rome and San Sebastian, arguing 'if you don't want Locarno to lose its international aura, then you have to give us the means so that we can keep the standard.'
His comments come as Switzerland's Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin, Jean-Frederic Jauslin, director of the Federal Office of Culture (BAK), and Nicolas Bideau, head of the BAK's Film section, plan to announce their allocation of government funding for eight Swiss film festivals for the next three years in Locarno on Friday.
Until now, Locarno had received $1m (CHF 1.2m) funding from BAK, almost half of the institution's annual budget of $2.1m (CHF 2.5m) for supporting film festivals and almost four times the amount - $274,467 (CHF 330,000) - granted to Nyon's Visions du Reel documentary festival and the Solothurn Film Days.
In an interview with the Tagesanzeiger, Locarno's festival president Marco Solari said that he was expecting 'realistically $1.25m (1.5m)' from the BAK on Friday, 'but more would be necessary.' He recalled that he had often dreamt of a special 'Lex Locarno' whereby government funding of this festival would be dealt separately from the other festivals. 'For this film festival not only has a cultural purpose, but is important for Switzerland as a whole,' Solari argued. However, such an option could only be decided by the national parliament.
Meanwhile in Locarno, Lita Stantic, the grand dame of Argentine Cinema, is to receive this year's Raimondo Rezzonico Prize in recognition of her achievements as an independent producer.
The award, which went in previous years to Pandora Film's Karl 'Baumi' Baumgartner, Vega Film's Ruth Waldburger, Gemini Film's Paulo Branco, Recorded Picture Company's Jeremy Thomas and the French production collective Agat Film, will be presented to Stantic on Friday evening before a screening of her 2001 production of Lucrecia Martel's debut La Cienaga.