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Comedy directing legend John Landis, whose credits include National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Trading Places (1983), will be honored by the Locarno International Film Festival with its lifetime achievement honor, the Pardo d’onore Manor award.
Landis will receive the award on Saturday, August 13 at Locarno’s Piazza Grande. The festival wills screen three of his films during the festival: Animal House, Trading Places, and the 1992 vampire crime comedy Innocent Blood (1992). Landis will also take part in a Q&A session with the Locarno audience.
The 70-year-old filmmaker has directed some of the most successful and influential comedies of all time, including The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), An American Werewolf in London (1981), and Coming to America (1988). He was one of the first directors to bring the alternative American comedy scene of the 1970s into mainstream cinema and his influence on subsequent generations of filmmakers has been immense.
Landis also made history as the director, and co-writer, of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, a job he got after Jackson saw American Werewolf in London. Arguably the most famous music video of all time, Thriller was also the first music video inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
“John Landis is a genuine American genius,” said Locarno artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro. “The all-consuming cinephile passion, slapstick music, irresistible gags, and visceral attachment to the B movie ethos, combined with acute critical sensibility and political awareness, made him a key figure in the renewal of American filmmaking between the Seventies and the Nineties. He hybridized horror and comedy, musical and noir, in a way never seen before. The resulting masterpieces captured enthusiastic audiences around the world, drawn by his fresh new filmic language and the challenges to conventional morality. Landis showed that you could do it all and dream it all, and in so doing he made cinema better, fairer, more inclusive.”
Landis’ partner, the Oscar-nominated costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis (Coming to America, Raiders of the Lost Ark), will also attend Locarno and will give a public masterclass on costume design on Thursday, August 12. Nadoolman Landis, a former president of the Costume Designers Guild and Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, is director of the UCLA David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design and curated the Victoria & Albert Museum’s 2012 blockbuster exhibition, Hollywood Costume.
Previous winners of Locarno’s Pardo d’onore award include Ken Loach, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, and Agnès Varda.
The 74th Locarno International Film Festival runs from August 4-14, 2021.
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