Locarno fest 'Knocked' out

Apatow comedy a hit in Euro bow

The European premiere of the Judd Apatow comedy "Knocked Up" was among the highlights of the first full day of the Locarno Film Festival on Thursday.

The 3,500-strong crowd was larger than the opening-night audience for the Japanese anime entry "Vexille," from Fumihiko Sori, and a showing of Ingmar Bergman's "Saraband," a last-minute addition that came in the wake of the Swedish director's death Monday.

The opening film Thursday night was "My Brother Is an Only Child," from Daniele Luchetti, a period drama about troubled family relationships that was one of the top boxoffice draws this year in Italy. The screening was the film's first outside Italy aside from May's Festival de Cannes.

"This is a great honor for me to show my film in one of the greatest venues in the world and one of the best audiences in the world," Luchetti said before the screening.

After "Brother," most of the crowd stayed on for the nightcap, Universal Pictures' "Knocked Up," which sparked loud laughter from the crowd at several points.

Locarno never cancels films because of the weather, but a rain-drenched second night would have put a damper on a festival that has started strongly, with an industry presence larger than in recent years and an impressive 19-film competition lineup that includes 15 world premieres and four international premieres.

"Knocked Up" is the first of several Hollywood offerings on the program that concludes Aug. 11. Universal's "The Bourne Ultimatum" also will screen this week, along with Fox Searchlight's "Waitress," New Line Cinema's "Hairspray" and the Weinstein Co.'s "Planet Terror" and "1408."

Also beginning Thursday was the Back to Locarno sidebar, a special program celebrating the 60th anniversary of the festival, in which directors who made their international debut at the festival return to rescreen their original films.

Among the highlights of today's program is the competition screening of "Slipstream," Anthony Hopkins' sophomore directing effort.