India to Take Center Stage at Locarno Film Festival

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ROME – The world’s largest film producing nation – India – will be the focus of the well-received Open Doors sidebar at the Locarno Film Festival, which gets underway Wednesday.
 
The 64-year-old lakeside festival, one of the oldest film festivals in the world, has garnered increased attention in recent years for Open Doors, which is partially sponsored by the Swiss government’s Agency for Development and Cooperation. In the previous two years, Open Doors focused on Central Asia and greater China.
 
The aim is to help up-and-coming film makers from those regions finish projects and secure distribution deals, and the agenda includes cash awards and initiatives designed at helping the filmmakers make the industry contacts they need.
 
This year, the festival turns to India, now the world’s largest producer of films. But despite producing some 3,000 films a year, Locarno artistic director Olivier Pere said the world “should not lose sight of the many talented filmmakers across India who are finding it very difficult to express themselves through normal circuits.” Pere said Open Doors will help some of those filmmakers find a voice.
 
Among the scheduled events are screenings of 13 Indian classics, including Raj Kapoor’s Aag, Halodhia Chorate Baodhan Khai (The Yellow Birds) from Jahnu Barua and Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Nizalkkuthu (Shadow Kill). The acclaimed Gopalakrishnan will be on hand personally to present his film. The festival will also present a retrospective of the work of Satyajit Ray.
 
But the main event will be the co-production lab in which a dozen Indian projects have been selected. The winners will be named Aug. 9.
 
Of course, Open Doors will be taking place amid a slate of high-profile screenings in the main part of the festival, including the festival’s signature Piazza Grande screenings, Europe’s largest – and one of its most picturesque – film venues.
 
The main program includes an intriguing mix of Hollywood blockbusters like Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens, which stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde. All are expected to make an appearance for the screening and Super 8 from J.J. Abrams, and the kind of auteur films Locarno is known for uncovering. One that could straddle both sides is And If We Lived Together from Stephanie Robelin, Jane Fonda’s first film made in France in nearly four decades.
 
Other highlights from the 20-film competition lineup that includes some 15 world premieres is Low Life from France’s Nicolas Klotz, Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet and El Ano del Tigre (The Year of the Tiger) from Sebastian Lelio. Also on the main competition program is Tanathur (Last Days in Jerusalem) another world premier from Israeli director Tawfik Abu Wael, which got its start in Locarno’s Open Doors film lab four years ago, and two international premieres of U.S. films: Azazel Jacob’s Terri and Another Earth from Mike Cahill.

As announced previously, Pere, in his second year at Locarno’s healm, will follow the highly regarded festival retrospective of Ernst Lubitsch from 2010 with an equally provocative focus on Vincente Minelli. An American in Paris, probably Minelli’s best known film, will screen in the Piazza Grande with Leslie Caron, who starred in the film opposite Gene Kelly, on hand to introduce the 60-year-old classic.

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