The International Locarno Film Festival is to share the duties of late president Giuseppe Buffi amongst its committee of directors until the end of the festival, which starts on August 2. Buffi died after suffering a heart attack last week.

After holding an emergency meeting following his death, Locarno announced that Raimondo Rezzonico, who headed the festival until his retirement seven months ago, will deal with public relations and political contacts, and Marco Cameroni, the Swiss Consul to Milan, will act as the festival's official spokesman.

Rezzonico would be assisted by Luigi Pedrazzini and Cameroni, while festival programming will be handled by film critic Federico Joli. Tiziana Mona will be responsible for Swiss cinema relations.

In a short press statement, the committee said a new president would not be elected before the end of this year's edition. "Our current priority is to ensure the success of this festival, which will be dedicated to the late president."

Locarno director Marco Muller underlined that although Buffi's presidency had been a short one, it had a substantial impact on the festival.

"He brought a new climate to the festival. He finally managed to push through some managerial reforms," he said. "We needed someone like him who could integrate his vision with a festival that has radically changed over the last 10 years."

Buffi, who had also recently taken over as president of the southern Swiss canton of Ticino and was widely expected to boost state funding for the festival, "always acted immediately," Muller said. "He was looking forward

to his first Locarno festival, to examining its shortcomings, finding the answers, and acting on them."

Muller said the new climate Buffi had pushed through could be felt in this year's selection, which is "the most balanced it's ever been." Locarno will open with Bryan Singer's X-Men and will include controversial French title Baise-Moi by Virginie Despentes', Michael Almereyda's Hamlet and Romuald Karmakar's Manila. The festival will also present a new B-movie section.