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John Landis and wife, Deborah Nadoolman Landis
John Landis and wife, Deborah Nadoolman Landis at the Downsizing premiere and Opening Ceremony, 74th Venice Film Festival (dp)

Director, screenwriter, and actor John Landis will receive the Pardo d’onore Manor award at the Locarno Film Festival. Landis will also join a panel discussion with the audience, while Locarno74 will feature screenings of three landmark titles from his career: National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), Trading Places (1983) and Innocent Blood (1992).

The career of John Landis ranges from the irreverent, biting satire of National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, via the cult movies that brought him auteur status in the 1980s and ’90s, such as The Blues Brothers (1980) and An American Werewolf in London (1981), to legendary contributions to pop culture like the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983).

Giona A. Nazzaro, artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival: “John Landis is a genuine American genius. The all-consuming cinephile passion, slapstick music, irresistible gags and visceral attachment to the B movie ethos, combined with acute critical sensibility and political awareness, made him a key figure in the renewal of American filmmaking between the Seventies and the Nineties. He hybridized horror and comedy, musical and noir, in a way never seen before. The resulting masterpieces captured enthusiastic audiences around the world, drawn by his fresh new filmic language and the challenges to conventional morality. Landis showed that you could do it all and dream it all, and in so doing he made cinema better, fairer, more inclusive. He provided a vector for the anxieties of the Sixties generation, giving them a new interpretation and creating a new kind of comedy merged with mutant physicality which – from John Belushi to the werewolves – rewrote the dominant aesthetic code. John Landis personifies the American cinema we have always loved and always will love.”

To mark the occasion of the Pardo d’onore Manor award for John Landis on the evening of 13 August, three classic titles from his filmography will be screened during the Festival (August 4-14)

  • National Lampoon’s Animal House, John Landis – USA – 1978, presented in Piazza Grande on the evening of Friday 13 August
  • Trading Places, John Landis – USA – 1983
  • Innocent Blood, John Landis – USA – 1992

Landis will be accompanied by his wife, Dr. Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Distinguished Professor, and Director of the UCLA David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design at the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, who will hold an open to the public masterclass on costume design on the afternoon of Thursday 12 August. Alongside her extensive contribution to films as a costume designer, including Indiana Jones for Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981), Deborah Nadoolman Landis curated the Victoria & Albert Museum’s blockbuster exhibition, “Hollywood Costume” (2012). The author of six volumes on costume design, she has been president of the Costume Designers Guild and a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Recipients of the Pardo d’onore award at the Locarno Film Festival have included directors Manoel de Oliveira, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ken Loach, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Agnès Varda, Michael Cimino, Marco Bellocchio and, in 2019, John Waters.

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