Locarno to Honor Johnnie To With Lifetime Achievement Award

Johnnie To
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The Golden Leopard prize will mark the first official appearance for To at the 65-year-old Swiss festival, which will take place in August.

ROME – The Locarno Film Festival announced Thursday it would present its lifetime achievement prize to trendsettingly campy Hong Kong-born director and producer Johnnie To.

In addition to presenting To with the festival’s prestigious Golden Leopard career award, the festival will screen his latest production credit Che sau (Motorway) in its famous Piazza Grande venue. It will be the European premiere of the film, which was directed by Soi Cheang.

The 57-year-old To is a prolific figure, directing more than 50 films and with nearly 70 production credits. Among his best known credits are 1989’s Aa long di gu si (All About Ah-Long), one of the films that thrust actor Chow Yun-Fat into the international spotlight, thriller Fuk sau (Vengence) from 2009, and suspense drama Dyut meng gam (Life Without Principle), all of which garnered multiple festival awards.

To is a regular at big European festivals, including Berlin, where he was nominated for the Golden Bear, Cannes, where he was nominated for the Palme d’Or twice, and Venice, where he has had three films nominated for the Golden Lion and where he was honored with that festival’s lifetime achievement prize two years ago. But this will mark To’s first official appearance at the picturesque lakeside Swiss festival.

“Each of [To’s] films is a love letter to his native city, urban poems that never tire of celebrating the nocturnal settings, artificial beauty and vital buzz of Hong Kong,” Locarno artistic director Olivier Pere said in a statement.

The 65-year-old Locarno festival will take place this year Aug. 1-11.