Locarno Film Festival to Honor Director Jean-Marie Straub

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."

The French director will receive the Swiss festival’s highest honor.

Director Jean-Marie Straub will receive the Locarno Film Festival’s Leopard of Honor in a special ceremony on Aug. 11.

Straub is considered a benchmark auteur in European cinema, known for his rigorous style of filmmaking. He was born in France in 1933 and later lived in Germany and Italy before settling in Switzerland, effectively making films in three of Switzerland’s four national languages.

After training with directors including Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson, he forged his own path in 20th century cinema in partnership with his wife Daniele Huillet. They debuted their first feature film in 1967, The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach. Their films are all interpretations of source material ranging from Bertolt Brecht and Franz Kafka to Marguerite Duras.

They went on to make more than two dozen feature-length films with From the Clouds to the Resistance (1979) and Sicily! (1999) among their most lauded work. The duo was also received an honorary Golden Lion in Venice in 2006.

“It is a special honor to be able to recognize the personality and achievement of Jean-Marie Straub during the 70th festival. Not just because of the close ties between Straub and Huillet and the Locarno Festival, but above all because their films hold a unique and special place in the history of modern film and are still an undeniable influence on various directors,” said Locarno director Carlo Chatrian. “Rigorous is a term that has often been used to describe their practice; watching their films again one also feels how much freedom pulses through every frame – something that is absolutely necessary to ‘digital’ filmmaking.”

Past recipients of the Leopard of Honor include Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, Sydney Pollack, William Friedkin, Jia Zhangke, Werner Herzog, Agnes Varda, Michael Cimino, Marco Bellocchio and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The 70th Locarno festival takes place Aug. 2-12.