Giuseppe Buffi, president of the Locarno International Film Festival and head of the local state government, has died of a heart attack. He was due to open this year's Locarno on August 2.

Buffi, 62, died at the wheel of his car near Venice on Thursday according to authorities. He had held the post of Locarno president for only three months, replacing Raimondo Rezzonico who had retired. He had taken over as president of the Swiss canton of Ticino at the end of April, and due to his political role was widely expected to increase state funding for the festival.

Locarno director Marco Mueller recently unveiled the line-up for this year's event which opens with Bryan Singer's X-Men and has titles including Virginie Despentes' Baise-Moi, Michael Almereyda's Hamlet and Romuald Karmakar's Manila in competition.

Buffi is survived by his wife, Mirka Roberti, and daughter.