Locarno chief slims down fest lineup (Variety)

New Locarno Film Festival artistic director Olivier Pere has taken the reins by starting to slim down the lineup as he looks to revamp the Swiss event in the increasingly competitive international fest arena.

"The first thing I want to change is that there will be less movies," Pere, formerly topper of the Cannes Directors' Fortnight, told Variety.

Pere has decided to drop the multi-format Ici et Ailleurs section, while maintaining the international competition as well as the Filmmakers of the Present competish.

"I have asked myself if we should really have two competitions," said Pere. "I think the answer is 'yes,' as long as we redefine each section."

That means that while the international competish will remain open to known names, the Filmmakers of the Present will only be for first and second works.

Pere, the first Gaul to head Locarno, which is located in the Italian-speaking section of Switzerland, said he has "no intention of making it a French festival" and very much wants to maintain the fest's close Italo ties.

"The problem is that the Italian industry has been opting for Venice instead, and I want to find a way to convince, at least some of them, otherwise," said Pere.

Pere also said he wants to "strengthen the presence of American movies from the indies, directors and stars," especially for the Piazza Grande screenings.

Meanwhile, Pere has appointed a new selection committee that comprises Phillip Cheah (Singapore), Jean-Francois Deveau (France), Mark Peranson (Canada), Roberto Turigliatto (Italy) and Agnes Wildenstein (France).

The 63rd edition of the Locarno fest will run Aug. 4-14 2010.

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