The Film Festival Locarno is an international film festival held annually in August in the city of Locarno, Switzerland since 1946. After Cannes and Venice and together with Karlovy Vary, Locarno is the Film Festival with the longest history. The main feature of the festival is the open-air screening space in the astonishing Piazza Grande, with room for over 8,000 spectators, and with one of the largest open air screens in the world (26x14 metres).
The top prize of the Festival is the Golden Leopard awarded to the best film in the international competition. Other awards include the Leopard of Honour for outstanding career achievements, and the Prix du Public UBS, the public choice award. The Locarno Film Festival is well known worldwide to be a festival of discovery. Throughout its history the festival has discovered new trends and launched the career of numerous directors and actors. Although the festival aims at the films, rather than at stars and glamour, several well-known personalities of the international film industry have been to the Locarno International Film Festival in recent years.
- The Piazza Grande section offers as world, international, European premieres works intended for a mainstream audience but made by genuine auteur filmmakers, with original genre films and the best of recently made documentaries.
- The Concorso internazionale (International Competition) presents as world or international premieres a selection of fiction feature films, documentaries, or animated films over 60 minutes in length.
- The Concorso Cineasti del presente (Filmmakers of the Present Competition) is reserved for first and second fulllength features made for the cinema over 60 minutes in length.
- A competitive section entitled Pardi di domani (Leopards of Tomorrow) is reserved for short and medium-length films not more than 59 minutes in length by young filmmakers who have not yet made feature-length films: student and graduation films, and the first cinematic ventures from new talents.
- The Fuori concorso selection offers recent work – feature films and shorts, film essays and documentaries – by well-established filmmakers, mostly world or international premieres.
- Histoire(s) du cinéma is the sidebar dedicated to the history of cinema. It offers works from filmmakers and artists to whom the Festival dedicates special tributes. This section also presents newly restored prints of rare and important works in film history, documentaries about filmmakers and actors.
- A retrospective section – a historical or thematic program, or the complete works of a major filmmaker – designed to make a contribution to the history of cinema or to enable the audience to (re)discover the body of work of an important auteur. Tributes may also be made to contemporary auteurs in the presence of the filmmakers themselves;
- A section entitled Open Doors, organized with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Swiss Foreign Ministry, which aims to highlight film projects from countries whose cinema is still developing, and to enable them to find production partners.
Within the framework of the Festival two sections are independently organized:
Concorso internazionale (international competition) Awards:
- The Pardo d’oro (Golden Leopard), Grand Prize of the City of Locarno
- Special Jury Prize of the Cities of Ascona and Losone
- Leopard for Best Direction of the City and Region of Locarno
- Leopard for the Best Actress;
- Leopard for the best Actor.
Concorso Cineasti del Presente (Filmmakers of the present) Awards:
- Pardo d'oro Cineasti del presente
- the Premio miglior regista emergente – Città e regione di Locarno
- the Premio speciale della giuria Ciné+ Cineasti del presente
- Leopard for Best Actress
- Leopard for Best Actor
Leopard for the Best First Feature to a first feature screened in the International Competition, the Filmmakers of the Present Competition, the Fuori Competition, Signs of Life or in the Piazza Grande section. First feature: first fiction, documentary, or animated film over 60 minutes in length.
Pardi di domani (Leopards of tomorrow) Awards:
- Pardino d’oro for the best Swiss short fi lm – Premio Swiss Life
- Pardino d’oro for the best international short film – Premio SRG SSR
- Pardino d’argento Swiss Life for the National competition Pardi di domani
- Pardino d’argento SRG SSR for the International competition Pardi di domani
- Premio Action Light for the best Swiss Newcomer;
- Medien Patent Verwaltung AG Prize
Films screened on the Piazza Grande are eligible for the following prizes:
- Prix du Public UBS
- Variety Piazza Grande Award