Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins was the main attraction when he appeared at the Locarno Film Festival on Friday to present his film "Slipstream".
Hopkins, aged 69, who has entered his work in the international competition, presents a virtuoso film with an experimental structure in which there is no shortage of irony.
The actor, his wife Stella Arroyave and actor Christian Slater formed the "glamour factor" at the festival but Hopkins was there not as an actor but as a director.
"We were invited to Rome and other festivals," said Arroyave who produced the film. "But we chose Locarno because of its genuine spirit of independence."
Presented for the first time internationally, "Slipstream" is typical of United States independent cinema both in its form and content. It's also a success.
Reality and illusion
The film is about reality and the illusion of life. As Hopkins once said: "Life to me, as I get older, is so illusion-like, so dream-like, that I think it's all a dream."
In a nutshell, Hopkins plays a screenwriter who is losing his mind. Between dreams and thoughts, his brain upsets him as he works on a crime screenplay.
If "Slipstream" is also an action film and a satire on the current state of the film industry, it equally offers an insight into the way Hopkins' brain works.
"My wife suggested I write the film. I said to myself that if I failed, I would not be thrown into prison.
"I got stuck in and the scenes followed one after the other... It's a metaphor of life, which has a beginning and an end and that's it," he said.
Hopkins had to dig into his pocket to produce "Slipstream" and find finances privately. There was only one producer.
"Producers tend to take control of films and I didn't want that. I summoned up as much courage as I could and that gives you an enormous sense of freedom."
Actor Slater, who carries the film from the beginning, said he had been "immediately inspired by Hopkins' script.
"I was very excited with my part, which left me a lot of room to experiment and have fun. It also inspired me to be as free as possible creatively," he said.
But what is the difference between acting and directing? "I cannot really say," Hopkins told swissinfo.
"I just had fun and I don't put things into categories. To direct is just another experience. I'm sometimes asked how I go about acting. I don't know. It's something I just do."
swissinfo, Pierre-François Besson, Locarno
Born in 1937 in Wales, Hopkins studied drama before joining the National Theatre in London on the invitation of Laurence Olivier.
His television career began exactly 40 years ago with "A flea in her ear".
His cinema career has included "The Elephant Man" by David Lynch (1980), "Desperate Hours" by Michael Cimino (1990) and "Silence of the Lambs" , which earned him an Oscar as best actor.
Locarno Film Festival 2007
The 60th Locarno Film Festival takes place from August 1-11.
There are around 80 films in the main official sections of the festival and 160 contributions in total.
There are around 80 international premieres, of which 20 are debut works.
30 countries are represented.
19 films are in the international competition, with one Swiss entry.
Swiss Cinema Day is on August 7.
35 Swiss films have been selected across the categories of the festival.
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