The Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland is set to celebrate the centennial of Columbia Pictures with a retrospective titled “The Lady With the Torch –– The Centenary of Columbia Pictures.” Curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht, the retrospective will feature classic titles produced by the Hollywood studio between the dawn of sound and the late 1950s. It will be officially unveiled at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles and is organized in partnership with Switzerland’s Cinémathèque Suisse.

Columbia Pictures, which was formerly known as Cohn-Brandt-Cohn, rebranded itself in 1924 and went on to produce some of American cinema’s most iconic films across various genres. The studio’s logo, the Lady With the Torch, became synonymous with the brand and is recognizable to film lovers worldwide. The retrospective will showcase both major auteurs like Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, and John Ford, as well as lesser-known genre filmmakers such as Max Nosseck and Seymour Friedman.

According to Khoshbakht, the retrospective aims to be an unofficial history of Columbia Pictures, celebrating both established names and undiscovered talents. It will focus on a wide range of films, from screwball comedies to existentialist westerns, reflecting the diverse output of the studio. Sony’s support will also enable the presentation of new restorations of films by John Ford and Phil Karlson, among others, showcasing the brilliant exchange between art and commerce in the studio system.

Following its launch at Locarno, the “Lady With the Torch” retrospective will travel around the world, providing audiences with the opportunity to experience the legacy of Columbia Pictures on a global scale. Locarno’s artistic director, Giona A. Nazzaro, expressed pride in hosting the centennial celebration of Columbia Pictures, describing it as a journey through a creatively rich moment in American cinema history, featuring masterpieces, new discoveries, and classic films. The 77th edition of the Locarno Film Festival, known as Europe’s preeminent indie cinema event, will take place from August 7 to 17.

Overall, the retrospective at Locarno Film Festival offers a comprehensive look at the legacy of Columbia Pictures, showcasing the studio’s contribution to American cinema during its golden age. From well-known classics to hidden gems, the lineup curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht promises to appeal to cinephiles of all interests. By shining a spotlight on both established auteurs and underrated filmmakers, the retrospective aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the studio’s history and its impact on the film industry. With new restorations and a global tour planned, the celebration of Columbia Pictures’ centennial at Locarno promises to be a must-see event for film enthusiasts worldwide.

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