The search for a successor to Frederic Maire as Locarno Film Festival's artistic director will be launched once this year's edition has ended on August 16.

In response to rumours circulating within the Swiss press about possible candidates for Maire's post, festival president Marco Solari stressed: 'Everything is still open. We are simply looking for the best person. It can be that we strike lucky in China or in Ticino.'

The question of a new artistic director came onto the agenda after it was announced at the beginning of June that Maire will become the head of Switzerland's Cinematheque from Nov1, 2009.

In an interview with the Swiss daily newspaper Tagblatt, Maire explained that he had originally reached an agreement with Solari to be Locarno's artistic director for 'five or six years' [when he took up the post in autumn 2005].

'When I was offered the position of director of the Cinematheque this spring, I therefore hesitated at first,' Maire said. 'Marco Solari himself said to me, though, that I must also think of my future.'

'There was nothing more standing in the way of the change when the Cinematheque found an interim solution which allowed me to leave Locarno not until autumn 2009, rather than already this summer. A farewell after four years is perhaps a bit early - but it's better if one goes too early than too late.'

Maire added that it had been Solari's wish that he continue as artistic director for the 2009 edition before moving to the Cinematheque: 'I have already planned some things [for 2009] and have them underway. If I were to go beforehand, I would have the feeling that I have not finished my work.'