Rain, 'Rambow' -- just another day in Locarno

Wet weather continues to dog the Swiss festival

LOCARNO, Switzerland -- Italian auteur Nanni Moretti was presented with the Locarno Film Festival's Golden Leopard lifetime achievement award Wednesday during yet another evening threatened by rain.

The unusually wet August has been a persistent theme at this year's festival, enough so that Moretti cracked: "I'm just trying to keep this short. It's starting to rain," when Locarno artistic director Frederic Maire asked if he had anything to add.

It did, in fact, rain periodically during the screening of "Son of Rambow" that followed, a coming-of-age story that made its appearance in Locarno a year later than originally expected.

The film, which director Garth Jennings said was a tribute to Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" films, was originally scheduled to appear in Locarno last year, but was pulled at the last minute because of legal issues that have since been resolved.

The Piazza Grande screening of "Rambow" preceded a screening of 1989's "Red Wood Pigeon," part of the festival's homage to Moretti.

So far, five of the seven Piazza Grande screenings at this year's festival have been at least threatened by rain, focusing added attention on the indoor screenings and the festival's myriad sidebars. One of those sidebars -- the Open Doors Film Laboratory -- concluded Wednesday with a Chilean drama and a Dominican-Mexican co-production taking the top honors.

Chile's Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, who directed "Seated in Front of the Fire," and "Jen Gentil" directors Laura Amelia Guzman and Israel Cardenas Ramirez were the main Open Doors winners. Each film will receive a cash prize of 50,000 Swiss Francs ($48,800), along with other support from the sidebar, which focuses on helping up-and-coming directors from different regions of the world.

"Filmmaking in Latin America is making a remarkable contribution to world cinema," Open Doors director Vincenzo Bugno said of the region selected for this year's lab.

Thursday's lineup will be highlighted by the final day of several minor Locarno sidebars and a single Piazza Grande screening -- "Khamsa," from France's Karim Dridi. The weather forecast Locarno calls for clear skies during the day, and a chance of rain again after sunset.

The festival concludes Saturday.