Locarno Film Festivalartistic director Irene Bignardi has declared herself "very happy" with herfourth event and has defended herself against criticism from former Locarnodirector Moritz de Hadeln.

"The final result of thisyear's programme saw us able to paint a picture consistent through all thesections showing that we had chosen the right moment and the right voices for afestival which wants to speak a certain artistic and social language," she saidin an exclusive interview with Screendaily.com.

Pointing to films in theNewsfront retrospective on the relationship between cinema and journalism, theInternational Competition and Piazza Grande open-air programme, she suggestedthat "the cinema of investigation has become more important. That doesn't saywe jumped on the Michael Moore bandwagon. This focus was decided many monthsbefore he went to Cannes, it was something around which we picked up on."

Meanwhile, she took theopportunity to respond to comments made in an interview with the local daily newspaperCorriere del Ticino by the former Berlin and Venice festival director Moritz deHadeln (who headed the Locarno festival in the 1970s). De Hadeln expressed concern about what he perceived asa predominance of the Italian language at the festival as this did notacknowledge the country's linguistic and cultural diversity from the French andGerman speaking parts.

Bignardi countered: "I thinkmy friend Moritz de Hadeln is totally wrong. The festival is in the Italianspeaking part of Switzerland, it speaks Italian because it is right for thisminority region to keep its culture and ties. When he says that he sees a lackof confederational culture, it is absolute nonsense because it is not by chancelast weekend that we had two ministers from Berne with the President of theConfederation and a German minister(Minister of Economics Wolfgang Clement)."

Looking to the future,Bignardi confirmed that she has already signed up for the 2005 edition - "thenwe play by ear and by health" - and indicated that the festival might considersetting up its own festival film fund if the MonteCinemaVerita Foundationcannot be saved.