Locarno Fest Announces New 'City of Milan' Prize for Best First Film

Piazza Grande
Reto Albertalli/AFP/Getty Images

Locarno's vast open-space screening area the Piazza Grande will welcome several current Hollywood films including J.J. Abrams' "Super 8,"  Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis comedy "Friends With Benefits" and "Cowboys & Aliens."

This will be the first time the storied 66-year-old event will have a fixed prize for the best film from a first-time director.

ROME – The Locarno Film Festival on Wednesday announced the creation of a new prize, the City of Milan Award for the festival’s best first film.

Up until now, the 66-year-old Locarno festival did not have a fixed award for the best film from a first-time director. The new prize, sponsored by the city of Milan, will go to the first film judged to be best from among those that screen in the main competition, the Cineasti del Presente sidebar, and the selections that screen in the festival’s famous Piazza Grande venue.

The award further strengthens ties between the festival and Milan. Though the Italy-Swiss border stands between the two cities, Milan is the closest big city to Locarno, just 70 miles due south of the lakeside Swiss town. The cities also have strong cultural and linguistic ties.

Stefano Boeri, Milan’s counselor of culture, fashion and design, said the award was “only the beginning of a collaboration between one of the most prestigious festivals on the international scene and a city that wants to return as a leading actor in the world of cinema.” Marco Solari, the Locarno festival’s president, called Milan’s decision to sponsor the award “recognition of the event’s artistic worth.”

The next edition of the Locarno festival, the first under new artistic director, Italian journalist and festival programmer Carlo Chatrian, will take place Aug. 7-17, 2013.