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Maura and Piccoli To Be Honored In Locarno

Tuesday, July 24---------Two of Europe's finest actors will receive the Locarno Excellence Awards in the beautiful resort city of Locarno, in the Ticino canon of Switzerland, as part of the Locarno Film Festival. The Festival, one of Europe's oldest, will pay tribute to Spanish actress Carmen Maura and French actor Michel Piccoli as part of its Festival events. The Locarno Excellence Award is given annually to an actor or actors of international standing. Previous honorees have included Susan Sarandon, John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. The Festival opens next week on August 1st.

Carmen Maura is one of Spain's cultural treasures.....a versatile actress with more than one hundred films to her credit. She is best known as the key female muse for director Pedro Almodvar, having appeared in sixe films for the director, including FOLLE FOLLE FOLLEME TIM (1978), PEPI , LUCI, BOM AND THE OTHERS GIRLS LIKE MOM (1980), WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS (1984), LAW OF DESIRE (1987) and the iconic WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (1989), for which she won the prestigious Goya Award as Best Actress. She reteamed with the director after two decades with last year's international arthouse hit VOLVER, which brought her and the entire female cast an ensemble acting award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Other major films in her 30 year career include her debut in PAPER TIGERS (1977), directed by Fernando ColomoBLINDFOLDED EYES (1978) and AY CARMELA! (1990), both helmed by the veteran Spanish director Carlos Saura; and memorable roles in international co-productions, including FREE ZONE (2005) by Israeli director Amos Gitai, and ALICE AND MARTIN (2006) by French director André Téchiné. As a tribute to the actress, the Festival will present a special screening of the film LA COMUNIDAD (Common Wealth) by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia, a black comedy which garnered three of Spain's Goya Awards in 2001, including the prize for Best Actress.

Michel Piccoli was born into a musician's family and spent the first fifteen years of his career appearing both on stage and on screen, mostly in supporting roles. He made his film debut in the late 1940s, but really hit his stride in the 1960s, with such films as CONTEMPT, DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID and BELLE DE JOUR. The veteran actor has appeared in almost 100 films, ranging from art-house movies to commercial mainstream fare. He won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for LEAP INTO THE VOID (1980), and the Silver Bear in Berlin for STRANGE AFFAIR in 1982. In his 50+ year career, he has been nominated for the Cesar Award four times (but never won). In 2005, he directed his first film NOT EXACTLY THE LIFE THAT I DREAMED OF, which showed out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival. In the past year, he memorably appeared in GARDENS IN AUTUMN, playing the role of a meddling grandmother....in drag, as well as reprising his classic role in BELLE TOUJOURS by Miguel de Oliviera, an updating of the classic BELLE DE JOUR by Luis Bunuel. Audiences can follow the excitement of the Locarno Film Festival by visiting their website: www.pardo.ch

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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