Garcia Bernal honoured at Locarno film festival

Gael Garcia Bernal The Mexican actor found international fame in Walter Salles 2004 film The Motorcycle Diaries

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Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal has become one of the youngest stars to receive Locarno Film Festival's Excellence Award, at just 33.

He was in Switzerland to accept the career prize ahead of a screening of his new film No.

Garcia Bernal found international fame after playing a young Che Guevara in Walter Salles' 2004 road-movie The Motorcycle Diaries.

But he said he still feels "green" as an actor, despite working for 20 years.

"I think I still have a lot of room to grow," Garcia Bernal told the crowd of more than 8,000 in the Piazza Grande. "Perhaps not in terms of height, but in terms of experience."

After being introduced as a "Latino divo" by Locarno's artistic director Olivier Pere, Garcia Bernal shook the prize over his head and used it to play air guitar, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The festival said the actor had "Latin sex-symbol charisma, fused with an engagement with the world and a mimetic talent for seeing right through his characters".

His latest film No, directed by Pablo Larrain, was one of the most successful films at Cannes this year and sees Garcia Bernal playing a gifted advertising executive who helped to oust Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The Locarno programme has also included some of his other works including Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education and Michel Gondry's The Science Of Sleep.

After starting out in plays with his parents and TV soap operas, Garcia Bernal has gone on to become a star of world cinema and maintains close ties with the Latin American film industry.

He has also starred alongside Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in Babel and in more recent American films Letters to Juliet and A Little Bit of Heaven with Kate Hudson.

Garcia Bernal has previously been honoured with the Marcello Mastroianni Prize at the Venice Film Festival alongside friend Diego Luna for their roles in Alfonso Cuaron's Y tu mama tambien. He won the Chopard Award of Male Revelation at Cannes in 2003.

In 2007 he made his directing debut with Deficit, a look at Mexican society that bridges the gap between social classes.

He joins British actress and "magnificent enigma" Charlotte Rampling, 66, as a second recipient of Locarno's Excellence Award this year.

Previous recipients of the Excellence Award include Susan Sarandon, John Malkovich and last year, Isabelle Huppert.

The 65th Locarno Film Festival runs until 11 August.

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