The Locarno International Film Festival, now in its 64th year, has been jokingly referred to as the smallest of the big European film festivals. However, under artistic director Olivier Pere, this year's festival from August 3 to 13 proved the Swiss city has the vitality to match its rivals. Key among Pere's changes was the introduction of a new programming concept and a reduction in the number of features from 350 to 260 to give greater visibility to the films featured. According to Pere, now in his second year at the helm of the Swiss festival, mainstream and cinephile films are compatible as long as they share a strong artistic angle. The result is that Hollywood blockbusters such as Super 8 and Cowboys and Aliens shared the programme with pieces such as a retrospective dedicated to Jean-Marie Straub. Alongside the three main competition sections of the festival, there was a rich programme of retrospectives, special tributes and the legendary open-air screenings on the Piazza Grande. It's unlikely that Argentinean director Milagros Mumenthaler, winner of the Pardo d'Oro for Abrir Puertas y Vetanas, will forget the awards ceremony under a full moon in the sold-out piazza. The film focuses on three sisters living in a large house after the death of their grandmother, and reveals their conflicts and the tensions between what is said and what is concealed. Although less radical, this year's competition presented some remarkable movies. One of the most interesting was Tokyo Koen by Japanese master Shinji Aoyama. Honoured with a special Pardo d'Oro, the film follows the story of a young photographer as he visits the numerous parks of Tokyo. In his unconventional movie Best Intentions, Romanian director Adrian Sitaru - winner of the award for best director - depicts with an obsessive, pitiless precision the temporary madness that befalls a son the moment his mother falls ill. In keeping with Locarno's tradition of political commentary was the out-of-competition screening of Tahrir, a documentary by Stefano Savona. The film vividly captures the atmosphere of the Egyptian uprising on Tahrir Square, resulting in a powerful testimony to this historic event. The festival was not without its glamour as a large number of famous actors were in attendance, including Isabelle Huppert, Harrison Ford, Claudia Cardinale and Gerard Depardieu. Film history was also revisited through an homage to the oeuvre of Vincente Minnelli, and Abel Ferrara was equally honoured. Judging by the enormous success of the Minnelli retrospective, which was often sold out, Locarno continues to be a true film fest for all lovers of cinema.