"Quality is the all-embracing element" says festival director Irene Bignardi about this year's International Competition lineup for the 55th Locarno International Film Festival (Aug 1-11) which kicks off on the stroke of midnight on Aug 1 with an open-air screening of Oliver Parker's The Importance Of Being Earnest.

More than half of the 22 selected titles are world premieres, including Aparna Sen's Mr And Mrs Iyer (India) and Alex Cox's Revengers Tragedy (UK), and a third of the films by first-time filmmakers such as Hungary's Kornel Mundruczo (Pleasant Days) and China's Meng Jinghui (Chicken Poets).

The granting of a general category by FIAPF for the international competition has "allowed us to choose more freely, but also keep to our tradition of discovering new talents", Bignardi said.

"In the competition, there are a number of films shot on video - such as Personal Velocity, Rene and OK - which were then transferred to film", Bignardi explained. "It was not just the costs, but a way of approaching reality because the use of video lets you get closer to the characters".

"The American films in the competition are very original and very different from one another", she added. "You have a very audacious storyline like Gerry and then Secretary which is a wonderful, little moral story".

Bignardi pointed out that she didn't see anything interesting from Africa, but sees Asia well represented with films from China, Japan and India, in addition to the Indian Summer retrospectove presenting 30 titles from arthouse to Bollywood from the past 25 years.

Outside of the international competition and Piazza Grande open air screenings, this year's festival is also featuring an Afghan Day showcasing "rediscovered" films saved from the Afghan Film Archive in Kabul; a screening of Markus Imhoof's World War II drama Das Boot Ist Voll with a discussion on the fate of refugees in contemporary Europe; a tribute to US director Allan Dwan; and the introduction of a new programme strand In Progress providing a direct interface between cinema and the other arts, including video art and literature.

Locarno International Competition Programme

Aime Ton Pere
Jacob Berger - Switzerland/France/Canada/UK-100 minutes
World Premiere

Al Primo Soffio Di Vento
Franco Piavoli - Italy - 85 minutes
World Premiere

Blue Moon
Andrea Maria Düsl - Austria - 90 minutes
World Premiere - Feature Debut

La Cage
Alain Raoust - France - 101 minutes
World Premiere - Feature Debut

Diskoli Apocheretismi: O Babas Mou (Hard Goodbye: My Father)
Penny Panayotopoulou - Greece / Germany - 108 minutes
World Premiere - Feature Debut

Gus van Sant - USA - 103 minutes
International Premiere

Man, Taraneh, Panzdah Sal Daram (I'm Taraneh, 15)
Rasul Sard-Ameli - Iran - 110 minutes
International Premiere

Ma Vraie Vie A Rouen
Olivier Ducastel e Jacques Martineau - France - 102 minutes
World Premiere

Meisje / Fille
Dorothee Van Den Berghe - Belgium / Holland / France - 94 minutes
World Premiere - Feature Debut

Mr. And Mrs. Iyer
Aparna Sen - India -
World Premiere

Jesper W. Nielsen - Denmark - 93 minutes
International Premiere

Oltre Il Confine
Rolando Colla - Switzerland / Italy - 104 minutes
World Premiere - Second Feature

One Hour Photo
Mark Romanek - USA - 95 minutes
International Premiere

Personal Velocity
Rebecca Miller - USA - 90 minutes
International Premiere - Second Feature

Alain Cavalier - France - 85 minutes
World Premiere

Revengers Tragedy
Alex Cox - UK - 112 minutes
World Premiere

Steven Shainberg - USA - 110 minutes
International Premiere

Michael Hofmann - Germany - 107 minutes

Szep Napok - Pleasant Days
Kornèl Mundruczò - Hungary - 100 minutes
International Premiere - Feature Debut

Tan De Repente
Diego Lerman - Argentina - 90 minutes
International Premiere - Feature Debut

Das Verlangen
Iain Dilthey -Germany - 90 minutes

Xiang Ji Mao Yi Yang Fei (Chicken Poets )
Meng Jinghui - China - 94 minutes
World Premiere - Feature Debut


Ali G Indahouse
Mark Mylod - UK - 87 minutes

L'armata Brancaleone
Mario Monicelli - Italy 1966 - 120 minutes
Hommage A Positif

Bend It Like Beckham
GurIndiar Chadha - USA / UK / Germany - 112 minutes
International Premiere

Stephan Beckner e Mike Huber - Switzerland / USA - 90 minutes
World Premiere

The Bourne Identity
Doug Liman - USA - 119 minutes
International Premiere

Corto Maltese - La Cour Secrète Des Arcanes
Pascal Morelli - France - 92 minutes
World Premiere

Dead Or Alive Final
Takashi Miike - Japan - 89 minutes
International Premiere

Samantha Lang - France/Australia - 110 minutes
World Premiere

The Importance Of Being Earnest
Oliver Parker - UK/France/USA - 94 minutes
International Premiere

Christopher Nolan - USA - 118 minutes
European Premiere

My Little Eye
Marc Evans - UK - 95 minutes
World Premiere

Un Nouveau Russe
Pavel Lounguine - France / Russia / Germany - 125 minutes
World Premiere

Jean-Pierre Limosin - France/Switzerland/Spain - 97 minutes
World Premiere

Shirin Neshat - USA - 11 minutes, 30 secondes

Neil LaBute - USA - 102 minutes
World Premiere

They Shoot Horses, Don't They'
Sydney Pollack - USA,1969 - 120 minutes
Leopard D'honneur 2002

M. Night Shyamalan - USA -
International Premiere