Lubitsch honor among Locarno innovations

First among changes by new artistic director Olivier Pere

VENICE, Italy -- The Locarno Film Festival announced Thursday that it would host what it called an "exhaustive" retrospective of pioneering film director Ernst Lubitsch in its 2010 edition, the first official move from new Locarno artistic director Olivier Pere.

Pere, who came to Locarno from the Directors' Fortnight sidebar in Cannes and who started his new post only on Sept. 1, said in an interview that he plans to scale down the number of films at Locarno to around 70 (the festival has had twice that many in the past), eliminate at least one sidebar, and focus on furthering Locarno's reputation for discovering new talent. But the first official move was to honor Lubitsch, who died in 1947 at the age of 55.

Lubitsch, who was born in Germany but who moved to the U.S. in 1922, has made more than 70 films, though about a fourth of them are thought to be lost. Among the best-known productions in his filmography are 1932's romantic comedy "Trouble in Paradise" and comedic drama "To Be or Not to Be" from 1942. He was nominated for the Best Director Oscar three times, and awarded an honorary Oscar shortly before his death in 1947.

"With this retrospective we pay tribute to one of the greatest filmmakers and uncontested masters of comedy," said Pere, who replaces Frederic Maire, who headed Locarno for four years.

The festival did not say which of Lubitsch's works would be refurbished and screened at the lakeside festival's 63rd edition, which will take place Aug. 4-14, 2010.