Olivier Père has been named as the next artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, succeeding Frederic Maire, and will take up his post from September 1, 2009.

Père has been artistic director of the Cannes’ Directors Fortnight since 2004. His replacement will be chosen by France’s Societe des Realisateurs des Films in the autumn.

There has been continued speculation on Maire’s successor since his June announcement that he would be stepping down after Locarno’s 2009 edition.

Expectations had been leaning towards a local, Swiss name such as Alberto Chollet, programme coordinator for Swiss Television SRG SSR or Marc Mäder, head of programming for the Pathe Suisse cinemas. Maire will take up the post of head of the Swiss Cinematheque from November 2009.

Commenting on Père’s appointment, Locarno festival president Marco Solari said ‘Olivier Père knows all that is involved in programming inside out, and has spent years heading up a section that is closest to the nature of the Locarno Festival, which has always focused on young cinema, discovery and experimentation. I am delighted with this choice.’

Père himself said his new role would enable him to continue to champion auteur cinema and ‘to fulfil an obligation, born of admiration, to directors who are essential to film history, and major figures who have contributed to the development and influence of film.’

Reacting to the appointment Micha Schiwow, director of Swiss Films, described Père as ‘a good choice’ since he was ‘an excellent authority on world cinema and determined supporter of auteur cinema.’