Locarno 70 between continuity and innovation
On the one hand, Locarno is indisputably one of the world’s great flm festivals, on the strength of its history, the tens of thousands of flms and the guests that have come to the shores of Lake Maggiore.
On the other, it is the festival that never stands still, re-inventing itself year after year, introducing new initiatives and enhancing its programming: this year there will be both brand new and refurbished theaters (PalaCinema and GranRex), a space for the conversation on flm (Locarno Talks), a window for the younger audience (Locarno Kids) and a digital competition (#movieofmylife).
Carlo Chatrian, Artistic Director of the Festival, emphasizes that the selection of the films has tried to keep together these two characteristic of the event.
The first is not so much a return to the screen as an apparition: Grandeur et décadence d’un petit commerce de cinéma, a splendid (TV) movie by Jean-Luc Godard, commissioned by what was then the French State network TF1, has been brought back to life in a restored version curated by Caroline Champetier. Conceived for TV in 1986, it will enjoy a theatrical release in 2017.
The second is a film that was lost and has since been found. Shot in 1990 by Raúl Ruiz during one of his frst returns to his home country, but never edited, La telenovela errante is quite literally a film never before seen, but uniquely lucid and visionary. With Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento credited as directors, the film is one of 18 entries competing for the 2017 Pardo d’oro award.
“The Concorso internazionale welcomes flms that in their different ways have illuminated, entertained, moved, questioned. Trying to reduce their variety to a single motif is an arduous task. Nonetheless, there are recurrent themes. Several of the flms are centered on rites of passage: from the father-and-son confrontation in Wajib (Duty) (actors Mohammad and Saleh Bakri are real-life father and son) to the clash between brothers in Vinterbrødre (Winter Brothers); from the last greeting to Mrs Fang in the new flm by Wang Bing to the transition from open-cast mines to shafts sunk in the bowels of the earth, in the fascinating feature by Ben Russell. There are also shifts, both unexpected and inevitable, that alter the faces and physique of those involved. For instance the delicate teacher who becomes an incendiary Mrs Hyde in Serge Bozon’s unusual take on education, or the child who fnds it hard to remember his “good manners” in the flm from Brazilian duo Dutra-Rojas, or again the personal, obsessional search for a truth buried in the past in Travis Wilkerson’s frst person narrative. There are flms which were clearly made with their leading players always to the fore in the concept (Harry Dean Stanton in Lucky, the bodybuilders in Ta peau si lisse, the two lonely men in Charleston, the feeing mother in Freiheit, or the young father-to-be in Goliath), but also others which openly describe a world still in the process of being mapped out (Gemini, Qing Ting Zhi Yan - Dragonfy Eyes, 9 doigts, Gli Asteroidi)” (Carlo Chatrian).
The Cineasti del presente competition comprises 16 titles, with 13 as world Premières. They form a chorus of flmic voices among the most remarkable that we met with during the selection process. Whether intimate or universal, political or existential, the entries show a picture of the world in which the wounds and scars are still visible, but the human element is far from moribund.
The Pardi di domani competition hosts 38 titles across its two sections. The program features an exceptional range in terms of both style and length, from 3’ of Kuckuck to 40’ of António e Catarina, from experimental flms to comedies and from animation (La Femme canon produced by Claude Barras) to flm essays.
Enhanced by two prizes, the Signs of Life sidebar continues to be a workshop for new narrative forms, in both short and long formats. There are debut features alongside entries from directors with established careers, some of which began right here in Locarno. All 11 flms are world Premières.
The Piazza Grande program is hallmarked by magnifcent acting performances. The Piazza will be lit up by the talent of Noémie Lvovsky and Mathieu Amalric, Fanny Ardant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Vincent Macaigne and Vanessa Paradis, Jürgen Vogel, Irrfan Khan and Golshifteh Farahani.