The Locarno Film Festival will now have to start looking for a new artistic director after the news that the present incumbent Frederic Maire is to become the successor to Herve Dumont as head of the Swiss Film Archive from November 1, 2009.
According to an agreement reached with the festival president Marco Solari, Maire will continue in charge as artistic director until the close of the 2009 edition of the Locarno festival.
In an official statement, Maire regretted having to leave after what will have been only four festivals as artistic director - from 2006 to 2009 -, 'but the pressing invitation from the Film Archive and the understanding attitude of the Festival President convinced me that this decision, though difficult, was the right one. The solution we have reached will give me peace of mind to prepare the 2008 Festival and to deliver on the projects we already have in the pipeline for 2009. That aspect was especially important to me. Moreover, with a solution of this kind the festival can take its time over the selection process for my successor.'
Meanwhile, Solari commented that Maire's departure 'obviously comes a little too soon for the Festival. I'm sorry he's leaving us. Frederic Maire made his mark on Locarno from the start and, like his predecessors, he set very high standards indeed.'
The son of a Swiss father and Italian mother of Piedmontese and Tuscan origins, Maire had taken over from Irene Bignardi as artistic director from the beginning of October 2005, although he had worked regularly for Locarno during the previous 20 years, variously as editor of Pardo News and the Catalogue, Head of the Press Office, as a member of the programming committee and - since 2001 - as a moderator for press conferences and post-screening Q&A sessions.
Bignardi herself had headed five editions of the festival from 2001 to 2005 after taking over the position of artistic director from Marco Mueller.
In an official communique, the festival stated that the question of a replacement for Frederic Maire 'remains entirely open' and that Solari and the Board of Governors 'will take all the time they need' before deciding on a successor.