Locarno Fest to Honor Italian Actor Sergio Castellitto

Sergio Castellitto

The 59-year-old Castellitto will be honored as part of a wider tribute that will include a round-table encounter and screenings of five of his films, including two he directed.

ROME – The Locarno Film Festival said Thursday it would honor Italian actor Sergio Castellitto with a Golden Leopard honor for lifetime achievement at this summer’s 66th edition of the event, part of a wider homage to actor that includes a round-table discussion of the actor's career and a retrospective of five of his films.

The formal announcement of Castellitto’s honor will take place later Thursday at a special cocktail hosted for the lakeside Swiss festival at Switzerland’s embassy in Rome, where he will be presented by first-year Locarno artistic director Carlo Chatrian and Swiss Ambassador Bernardino Regazzoni.

In a statement, Chatrian praised the 59-year-old Castellitto as a key bridge between eras of Italian film: “This honor is not only a way of looking back on a career that connects two distinct eras of Italian cinema, one of the giants – [directors Mario] Monicelli and [Marco] Ferreri and [acting icon Marcello] Mastroianni -- and of newer directors -- [Gianni] Amelio, [Marco] Bellocchio, and [Paolo] Virzi -- and was then able to find its own path,” Chatrian said.

Locarno officials previously announced they would give lifetime achievement honors this year to directors Werner Herzog and Georgian filmmaker Otar Iosseliani.

Castellitto, a three-time winner of Italy’s David di Donatello awards and four-time honoree by the Nastri d’Argento (Silver Ribbons) prizes, has acted in nearly 100 films and television series in a career that dates to the early 1980s. He is probably best known internationally for his role as Miraz in the 2008 blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and he appeared in Locarno’s famous Piazza Grande venue a dozen years ago with Bella Martha (Mostly Martha), a romantic comedy from Sandra Nettelbeck.

Locarno officials have selected five productions relatively recent productions to screen at the August 7-17 festival: Jacques Rivette’s 2001 crime drama Va savoir (Who Knows?); Bellocchio’s L’ora di religion (My Mother’s Smile) from 2002; and Alza la testa (Raise Your Head), a 2009 father-son drama from Alessandro Angelini; along with two of Castellito’s four directorial efforts: La bellezza del somaro (Love & Slaps), a 2010 comedy; and Venuto al mondo (Twice Born), which stars Penelope Cruz in a story about a single mother seeking to return to war-torn Sarajevo with her teenage son.

Twitter: @EricJLyman