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LOCARNO, Switzerland – Swiss actor Bruno Ganz was given a lifetime achievement award Thursday at the Locarno Film Festival ahead of the world premiere of Sport de filles (Of Women and Horses), directed by France’s Patricia Mazuy.
Ganz said he was wowed by the massive Piazza Grande crowd, saying “Switzerland is a small country, but when you see the size of the crowd here you want to say ‘Yes we can’; we can do it, too.”
It was the first Locarno prize for Ganz, who said he had been to Locarno three times before: once as a child and twice for previous films – always while it was raining. It was a clear night Thursday, but for a crowd that sat through rain-drenched screenings during the first half of the August 3-13 festival, the comments elicited applause from the crowd.
Ganz is one of Switzerland’s most recognizable figures, who has worked with many of the industry’s best known names including Alain Tanner, Wim Wenders, and Francis Ford Coppola.
Sport de filles tells the story of a horse rider, played by Marina Hands, who trains young horses that are eventually sold away from her. She meets a legendary horse trainer, played Ganz, who introduces her to the word of dressage, where she again comes into contact with the economic realities of the horse world.
It was a return to her past for Hands, who was a horse rider in her youth before turning to acting.
Hands, Mazuy, and the films producers joined Ganz on stage after the presentation of his award to present the film. Mazuy charmed the crowd by speaking in heavily accented Italian to thank the crowd for coming in such large numbers.
“Bruno and Marina have not seen the finished film yet, and now with such a large crowd they will not be so lonely,” said Mazuy, who won the Bronze Leopard in Locarno in 1993 for Travolta et moi (Travolta and Me).
It was the second consecutive nearly full crowd in the Piazza Grande, a function of the native son’s return – Ganz was born north of Locarno, in Zurich, 70 years ago – and the good weather.
Thursday was the penultimate fully scheduled day at the festival, which will run a short schedule with no in-competition films before handing out its major awards in the Piazza Grande on Saturday.
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