Press Releases  ·  21 | 06 | 2021

The Pardo d’onore Manor 2021 goes to John Landis

The Locarno Film Festival will pay tribute to the unrestrainable comic and creative genius of U.S. director, screenwriter, and actor John Landis, who on Friday August 13 in Piazza Grande will receive the Pardo d’onore Manor award. On Saturday 14 August at the Forum @Rotonda by la Mobiliare, 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).

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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). Struck by the impact of the horror classic Werewolf, Jackson himself called upon Landis to write and direct a groundbreaking theatrical short for the hit single in 1983. With his original brand of comedy, Landis revitalized classic formats and ushered in a new era for the genre. The Locarno Film Festival celebrates his achievements with its Pardo d’onore Manor award, given each year to an outstanding personality in filmmaking.

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.

The tribute program

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 (4-14 August) in the unique atmosphere of Locarno:

  • 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

On Saturday 14 August, John Landis will also meet the Festival audience during a panel conversation at the Forum @Rotonda by la Mobiliare, the Festival’s talk venue.

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 of the calibre of Manoel de Oliveira, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ken Loach, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Agnès Varda, Michael Cimino, Marco Bellocchio and, in 2019, John Waters. Since 2017, the Pardo d’onore award has been supported by Swiss department store chain Manor, a Main Partner of the Locarno Film Festival.

The 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival will take place from 4 to 14 August 2021. The Festival team is currently working, in full compliance with official health and sanitary guidelines, towards putting on a physical event in 2021. Should those same guidelines so require, however, the Festival reserves the option to make organizational changes which will be announced to the media and the general public in due cours

John Landis - Bio

Born in Chicago in 1950, John Landis began his career as writer-director at the age of 21 with the very low budget feature Schlock (1973), an affectionate tribute to monster movies: clad in an ape suit, Landis played the “Schlockthropus” or “missing link”. He followed up that debut with The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), the successful prelude to a long string of hits: the gross-out fraternity comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978); The Blues Brothers (1980), written with Dan Aykroyd, who co-starred alongside John Belushi; Trading Places (1983), the start of a collaboration with Eddie Murphy that continued with Coming to America (1988) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994); the spoof nuclear thriller Spies Like Us (1985); Into the Night (1985) and Three Amigos! (1986).

In 1981 Landis wrote and directed An American Werewolf in London, a blend of horror and comedy which so inspired Michael Jackson that he called upon Landis to write, produce and direct the groundbreaking theatrical short Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1983. In 2009, Thriller was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry, where it has since been joined by National Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blues Brothers. Landis directed Michael Jackson again in the video for his song Black Or White in 1991, and was the Executive Producer (and often director) of the television series Dream On, which won HBO its very first Emmy.

In 2004 he tried his hand at documentary, directing a cinéma-verité look at used-cars sales techniques in Slasher. After the medium-length features Deer Woman (2005) and Family (2006) for the U.S series Masters of Horror created by director Mick Garris, he made the 2010 black comedy Burke & Hare. In 1985 Landis was knighted as a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. Career retrospectives of his work have been held by the Cinémathèque française in 2009, and in various international festivals over the years.