Locarno Film Fest to Honor 'Toni Erdmann,' 'Elle' Producer

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Michel Merkt

Michel Merkt will receive the Swiss festival's 2017 Best Independent Producer Award.

Swiss producer Michel Merkt will be honored at the upcoming Locarno Film Festival with the prestigious best independent producer award, Raimondo Rezzonico. The 15-year-old prize has highlighted the work of producers helping to push boundaries in independent cinema. Past award recipients include Karl Baumgartner, Menahem Golan, David Linde, Mike Medavoy and Christine Vachon.

Merkt has been credited with bringing Switzerland back as a major player in European cinema, having recently produced the Academy Award-nominated films Toni Erdmann (best foreign-language film), My Life as a Zucchini (best animated feature) and Elle (best actress).

In addition to making his mark on European cinema, Merkt was instrumental in making David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, which he co-produced with Said Ben Said and Martin Katz. He also produced Xavier Dolan's Cannes award-winning film It's Only the End of the World, starring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux, as well as Walter Hill's The Assignment, starring Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez.

Upcoming credits include Dolan's The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, Paul Verhoeven's Blessed Virgin and Emmanuel Finkiel's La Douleur.

"In just a few years, Michel Merkt has worked his way forward to the leading edge of global independent filmmaking," said Locarno festival director Carlo Chatrian of the announcement. "What I like about his work to date is how he takes you by surprise, transcending the confines of genre and nationality that have so often defined the output of his colleagues. His curiosity, combined with his undeniable instincts, have made him one of the leading players on the contemporary scene."

The 70th Locarno Festival will take place from August 2-12.

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