Given the close proximity of their dates and the subsequent programming rivalry, there never has been much love lost between the Locarno (Aug 6-16) and Venice (Aug 27 - Sep 6) festivals.

It's situation that was highlighted recently by a squabble over the competition programming of a Russian film.

The Return, the debut of Andrei Zvyagintsev, was offered to both festivals but was rejected by Critics' Week of Venice.

Then, to the delight of the film's agent, Raissa Fomina of Intercinema Art Agency, Locarno director Irene Bignardi announced she would accept the film into competition.

Fomina convinced producer Dimitri Lesnevsky to accept the offer and confirmed it to Locarno.

At the same time, she informed Venice that the film would be unveiled at Locarno.

The next day, Venice came back with an official invitation for the main competition.

At which point, Lesnevsky, only 33 but already the owner of a successful TV channel Ren TV, told Fomina to cancel Locarno and chose instead to premiere at Venice.

However, Bignardi had already unveiled The Return as part of her line up and sent a message to Venice director Moritz de Hadeln, suggesting there might have been a misunderstanding.

De Hadeln replied that it is the producer's prerogative to decide which festival he prefers.

Bignardi concedes there is nothing she can do right now except to express her regrets for the lack of a code of conduct that would prevent such incidents from happening.

The film, an intimate story of a confrontation between an estranged father and his two young sons, has also secured Montreal and Toronto dates.