Locarno's New 'Light' Festival Continues Despite Change in Artistic Directors

Chatrian (right) with Frederic Maire

Carlo Chatrian will take over the fest as of Nov. 1, giving him just 20 weeks to prepare for the new three-day event to focus on cinema and literature.

ROME – The special three-day "light" version of the Locarno Film Festival announced for March will take place as planned, despite the surprise departure of artistic director Olivier Pere, festival officials told The Hollywood Reporter.

Festival President Marco Solari announced plans for the special event -- to be held March 24-26, 2013 -- on the final day of this year’s festival. The event was tailor-made for Pere, who Solari said would be given "carte blanche" to create the mini-festival with instructions only to "explore the connection between cinema and literature, between imagination and art."

Just 16 days later, however, Pere stunned observers by abruptly announcing he would leave the 66-year-old Locarno event to become general director of Arte France Cinema in Paris. Pere’s departure left the fate of the three-day event in March cast in doubt.

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Locarno officials moved quickly to replace Pere, promoting well-regarded journalist and veteran festival programmer Carlo Chatrian as artistic director. The 41-year-old Chatrian, an Italian, had been associated with the Locarno festival under the four previous artistic directors -- Pere, Frederic Maire, Irene Bignardi and Marco Mueller, who left Locarno for Venice and who is now at the helm of the International Rome Film Festival.

Now festival officials say that Chatrian will oversee the event in March with the same mandate Pere had. That means that Chatrian -- in his first job as an artistic director after two decades of experience teaching cinema courses and working with festivals -- will have only 20 weeks between officially taking over the position Nov. 1 and the opening of the mini-festival.

The three-day event will be far smaller than the traditional Locarno festival, featuring no more than a dozen films and not utilizing the festival’s signature venue, the massive 8,000-seat Piazza Grande. Once it concludes, Chatrian will have an additional 20 weeks to prepare for the 66th edition of the Locarno festival, which will run August 7-17, 2013.