Sydney Pollack will be awarded a Leopard Of Honour at this year's expanded Locarno festival, while Portuguese-French-based producer Paulo Branco will be given the inaugural Raimondo Rezzonico prize for best independent producer.

The new awards were announced by festival director Irene Bignardi, who detailed the practical impact of Locarno's changed status within FIAPF. The festival (Aug 1-11) has given up its new talent discovery role in favour of a more generalist mandate. Its main prizes will be open to films from all over the world.

While the competition programme will not be announced before July 15, Bignardi has unveiled a programme of Afghan cinema and a 30-title sidebar of Indian cinema "Indian Summer". The Afghan day will feature treasures from the Kabul cinematheque, which buried films in the mountains in order to prevent their loss or damage.

Other sidebars include a retrospective of films by Allan Dwan, the Canadian born film-maker whose career spanned the first 80 years of cinema, and "In Progress" a section which interfaces film with other arts and this year will particularly examine the links between cinema and literature.

While there have been rumours of other autumn festivals attempting to profit from the political turmoil at Venice, Bignardi denied that there was any sort of clash with over titles. "Moritz de Hadeln is a professional and Venice will be able to reap the benefits of its years of 'investment'. It will be offered plenty of films."

Another novelty is the opening of two new theatres La Sala and L'Altra Sala, with 960 and 500 seats respectively, a move which will also help the festival re-locate the outdoor Piazza Grande screenings in case of rain.