Locarno's new artistic directorFrederic Maire has announced a series oforganisational and programme changes two months after taking up his post onOctober 1.

Speakingat press conferences in Zurich and Bellinzona,Maire revealed that the next edition of the festivalfrom August 2-12, 2006 will no longer stagethe Video Competition and will transform the Film-makers Of ThePresent sidebar into a competitive section with its own jury. Locarno will dispense with adedicated Human Rights Programme, but continue to programme films addressingthe issue of human rights wherever appropriate.

Andthe In Progress sidebar will be renamed and serve in future as a platform forexperimental film-making.

Maire would reportedly like the nightly open-air screenings on Locarno's Piazza Grande to be"more festive" and has created a special sub-committee consisting ofexhibitor Matthias Brunner, distributor-exhibitor Jose-Michel Buhler, andexhibitor Beki Probst toadvise him on the programming of the films for the venue.

Ina break from the previous practice, Maire hasabolished the post of vice artistic director and will have three"delegates" Nadia Dresti (film industry), Chicca Bergonzi (Leopards ofTomorrow), Tiziana Finzi(programming) who will deputise for Maire in various areas in addition to their coreresponsibilities.

Inaddition, Doris Longoni hasstepped down after eight years from the post of Head of Communication andMarketing and will be succeeded from February 1 by RiccardoFranciolli, who is currently working as the assistantof Nicolas Bideau, head of the Film Section at Switzerland's Federal Office ofCulture. Longoni will serve the festival in future asa consultant on marketing and sponsoring issues.