This year’s Locarno Film Festival (Aug 3-13) will dedicate its retrospective to the work of the American director Vincente Minnelli.

Commenting on the choice of Minnelli, whose films include An American in Paris, Lust For Life and Gigi, artistic director Olivier Père [pictured] said that Minnelli’s films are “the high water mark of classic Hollywood movie-making, but, at the same time, they offer an elegant but highly personal vision of the loves and feelings of passionate characters.”

Père, who will be preparing his second Locarno programme as artistic director this year, has retained Mark Peranson, Agnès Wildenstein and Roberto Turigliatto as members of the Festival Selection Committee. In addition, Frank Braun and Beki Probst – who were members of the Piazza Grande Committee last year – have now been appointed as consultants for Swiss Cinema and to the artistic direction, respectively. Manlio Gomarasca will continue to serve as a consultant for genre cinema and special programmes, while the festival will still be able to draw on correspondent Joel Chapron’s extensive network of contacts in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Russia.

Meanwhile, Locarno learnt at the Solothurn Film Days today that it will receive an additional $103,000 (CHF 100,000) annually from 2011-2013 from Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture (BAK).

Until now, Locarno had received $1.403m (CHF 1.35m) from BAK but this will now rise to $1.506 m (CHF 1.45m), 62% of the total $ 2.43m (CHF 2.34m) being paid out by the national institution annually to Swiss film festivals for the next three years.

Neuchatel’s International Fantastic Film Festival and the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival both see their subsidy increasing from $77,957 (CHF 75,000) to $124,731 (CHF 120,000), while the Wintherthur International Short Film Days’ support doubled to $103,000 (CHF 100,000) per year.

At the same time, there was no change to the annual $ 415,792 (CHF 400,000) going to Nyon’s documentary film festival Visions du Réel or to the $51,974 (CHF 50,000) for Zurich Film Festival. The amount for Fribourg International Film Festival was pegged at $103,000 (CHF 100,000) in the light of a change of festival director and will re-examined this year for 2012-13.

The BAK also announced that it plans to help smaller cinemas with the costs of digital conversion by providing up to $9.35m (CHF 9m) over the next six years and beginning with a budget of $1.03m (€1m) for 2011. This commitment will enable 100-120 screens to be digitised each year, according to BAK.