The Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland is gearing up to celebrate the centennial of Columbia Pictures with a retrospective featuring classic films made by the Hollywood studio between the early days of sound in cinema and the late 1950s. The retrospective, titled “The Lady With the Torch –– The Centenary of Columbia Pictures,” is curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht, co-director of Italy’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival, in collaboration with Switzerland’s Cinémathèque Suisse. It will be officially announced at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles.

Columbia Pictures, which was initially a small production company known as Cohn-Brandt-Cohn, rebranded itself in 1924 as Columbia Pictures. Throughout its golden age, the studio produced a diverse range of iconic films across various genres and styles. The Lady With the Torch, a Statue of Liberty-like female figure draped in the American flag, became a symbol associated with the studio and its films during this time. The retrospective aims to showcase the work of lesser-known genre filmmakers as well as major auteurs such as Howard Hawks, Frank Borzage, Fritz Lang, and others.

The “Lady With the Torch” retrospective at Locarno will highlight both well-known Oscar-winning films and underrated gems by B-unit directors. Khoshbakht emphasized the importance of recognizing the contributions of both renowned filmmakers and those who have yet to be discovered. Through Sony’s support, the festival will present new restorations of films by directors like John Ford and Phil Karlson, showcasing the intersection of art and commerce that characterized Columbia Pictures during its peak.

Following its premiere at Locarno, the retrospective will travel to other locations around the world, bringing the celebration of Columbia Pictures’ centennial to a global audience. Locarno’s artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro expressed pride in hosting a tribute to the studio’s creative output, which includes masterpieces, hidden gems, and timeless classics. The Locarno Film Festival, known for its focus on independent cinema, will take place from August 7th to August 17th, providing a platform for filmmakers and cinephiles to experience and celebrate the art of cinema.

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