'Sol' draws crowd at Locarno

Controversial docu among heavily attended screenings

LOCARNO, Switzerland – Two days after Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi sparked a controversy by condemning the documentary "Il Sol del'avvenire" (Red Sun) for what he called "insensitivity," the film attracted a standing-room-only crowd at the Locarno Film Festival's 1,200-seat La Sala venue.

The doc details the formation of the Red Brigades, a Marxist-Leninist extremist group that ravaged Italy in the 1970s and early 1980s, including lengthy interviews with some of the movement's founders.

Bondi said the film would be offensive to families that lost members in Red Brigade attacks. He also argued the film should not have received state funding; some film execs called his stance a kind of censorship.

Among the weekend's other highlights at the 61st edition of the fest were three straight sellouts in the festival's outdoor Piazza Grande, which seats 8,500. After a drizzling rain the ffirst two evenings, the weather improved just in time for the weekend, leaving moviegoers with clear skies and crisp evening air.

Marcos Siega's romantic comedy "Chaos Theory," Philipp Stolzl's mountain climbing adventure story "Nordwand" (Northface), and French comedy "La Fille de Monaco" from Anne Fontaine were the main acts in the Piazza Grande on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively. All three were either European or world premieres.

On Monday, the Aug. 6-16 fest moves into the homestretch, with the world premiere of Alessandro Baricco's "Lezione 21" (Lesson 21), about the life of Beethoven, and "The Eternity Man," a graphic comedy about an out-of-luck war veteran in Australia.