With his firstedition as artistic director coming to a close on Saturday (Aug 12), Locarno's Frederic Maire isalready looking ahead to the festival's 60th anniversary in 2007.
Speakingexclusively to ScreenDaily.com, Maire revealed thatthe festival will be organizing a tour of 30 important competition films frompast years by such directors as Spike Lee, Claude Chabroland Marco Bellochio in cinemas throughout the regionof Ticino from September 2006 to June 2007. Thisinitiative will be flagged up on Saturday evening with Aki Kaurismaki's"carte blanche" presentation of Jim Jarmusch's Stranger ThanParadise, which won the Golden Leopard in Locarnoin 1984.
Rather thanfocusing on staging a large number of special events and sidebars for the 60thedition, Maire said that "we need more money to makea better festival - with more personnel and facilities - than organizingspecial anniversary programmes. We don't want to belooking back [on the festival's past], but prefer to be looking forward - tothe 70th anniversary!"
Moreover, heexplained that the festival would be working closely going forward with localpoliticians "to bring the forces together" for the realization of a so-called Palacinema building project in the centre of Locarno
The localnewspaper Tessiner Zeitung hadreported at the beginning of this year's festival that the city of Locarno was prepared to sell a plot of land to investorsfor a $80.8m (CHF 100m) housing development in a 70-metre high tower whichwould be required to house new headquarters and archive rooms for the filmfestival, an eight-screen cinema complex and a four-star hotel with 100 rooms. Thecity's mayor Carla Speciali optimistically spoke ofcelebrating the 60th anniversary in the shell of the building nextyear.
"We definitelyneed new structures to help both the festival and cinema in Locarnocontinue to exist. But we need this quick," Mairenoted, pointing out that there are "lots of building projects appearing here inthe Ticino region, but there isn't any concrete moneyor investors yet."
It remains to beseen whether this ambitious project will get off the ground especially in thelight of the parlous state of the city's finances.
Meanwhile, thecrisis in hotel rooms is set to deepen next year with the temporary closure nextyear of the Romantik Hotel Orselina,popular especially with festival guests from Germany, year as it undergoes a $16m(CHF 20m) "makeover" to become the Resort & Suite Hotel Orselinafrom early 2008 with 27 hotel suites instead of the present 70 rooms.
Maire had a positive attitude about his firstyear as artistic director. "I have heard many people say: 'The festival reallyloves and respects films' and the filmmakers were happy that there was enoughspace here to be seen and discovered. We have had cinemas full in all thesections, whether it was the Competition in the Fevi,in the Retrospective [for Aki Kaurismaki], on thePiazza Grande or even for Play Forward. So, I get the feeling that the kind offestival I wanted to have has worked."