Latin American cinema will be the focus of this year's Open Doors project platform at the Locarno International Film Festival (August 6-16).

Particular attention will be paid to projects from countries with emerging film production such as Peru, Colombia, Uruguay and Costa Rica, although projects from other Latin American countries where production is more developed will also be considered.

Twelve projects will be selected from the submissions coming from all of Latin America. The directors and producers of these projects will be invited to participate in the Open Doors Factory workshop held during the festival in August where they will have a chance to meet potential co-production partners. This event will then be rounded off with the awarding of development or production grants to three of the projects.

In addition, a programme of screenings will be staged to give the festival audience an opportunity to see a selection of key films made in Latin America in recent years.

The Locarno festival had previously announced that the 2008 edition of Open Doors platform would be dedicated to English- and Portuguese-speaking southern Africa, such as South Africa, Angola and Mozambique.

However, as project manager Vincenzo Bugno told, 'we have decided in favour of Latin America because we are convinced that there is a considerable artistic diversity of projects and many talented, mostly young (even very young) directors at the moment in Latin America. It is also a question here about the potential film productions of relatively new cinematographies - apart from the internationally established film nations like Argentina, Brazil and Mexico - who need an additional support and could be particularly interesting for European and other international co-producers. I am very much looking forward to this!'

The Latin American region has regularly come into Locarno's sights: the first edition of Open Doors in 2003 had been dedicated to Argentina and Cuba, while the last two years saw a special showcase of Latin American projects organised in collaboration with the Buenos Aires Lab (BAL).

Meanwhile, festival president Marco Solari spoke at a press conference at the Solothurn Film Days on Thursday about the increasing difficulties of financing the Locarno festival, according to the Basler Zeitung. Solari revealed that the festival aims to boost its income by showing some films on the Piazza Grande open-air venue ahead of the festival proper. The new programme entitled Open Space would be aimed primarily at locals and tourists.