Russian actor Oleg Menchikov (pictured) is to be the first recipient of the Locarno Excellence Award, created by the festival to celebrate the work of an actor or actress.

Born in 1960, Menchikov has worked in television and film on such productions as Burnt By The Sun, The Barber of Siberia, and Est-Ouest.

The festival organisers also announced that production designers will be at the centre of this year's In Progress sidebar, exploring the interaction between art, architecture and cinema. Dan Leigh (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), Emilio Ruiz del Rio (Doctor Zhivago) and Francois-Renaud Labarthe (Irma Vep) will be in Locarno to discuss their work.

Meanwhile, over a dozen international buyers including the new Dutch distributor One More Film, the UK's Soda Pictures, Hungary's Best Hollywood and South Korea's Jay Net, will be coming to Locarno for the first time this year, according to the festival's Industry Office.

Industry Office head Nadia Dresti told that acquisition executives from Distribution Company (Argentina), 3Rosen (Germany), Filmtrade (Greece), Sun Distribution (Uruguay), Karma Films (Spain), Gil Assaf (Israel), Atalanta Filmes (Portugal) and Svensk Filmindustri AB (Sweden), and Constellation Pictures (Italy) will also be Locarno debutants.