Locarno76’s alternative take on cinema (and the world)

Everything is ready for the 76th festival. © Keystone / Jean-Christophe Bott

Desiring to create an alternative image of the world, today, August 2, the 76th Locarno Film Festival opens. The Swiss Film Festival runs until 12 August and for eleven days will explore the complexity of the present in terms of 214 selected films.

This content was published on August 2, 2023 – 09:22 AM

The vision of Artistic Director Giona A. Nazzaro at his third festival this year is clearly aimed at a different interpretation of the world we live in, thanks to the magic of cinema that not only interprets, but offers an alternative reading of the present. And Locarno76 will do just that with 214 films on the program, including 110 world premieres (source).

Magic Piazza Grande

While other major film festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice, emphasize international competition and the presence of world cinema stars and starlets, Locarno – partly by choice, partly by duty – favors outsiders, directors and independent female directors, newcomers and less. classic stories. Locarno stands out in particular for its Piazza Grande, a nice lounge under the stars (and often moody August skies) that entertains almost 8,000 people every evening in front of a 364 square meter mega screen, including cinephiles and many curious people.

Aerial view of Piazza Grande in Locarno, an open-air cinema with over 8,000 seats. Keystone / Urs Fluiler

For cinephiles, but also for the general public, Piazza Grandeexternal reference this year it offers arthouse films from the past such as La Palomaexternal reference(1974) by the Swiss Daniel Schmid, restored on this occasion by the L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in Bologna, and the City of Womenexternal reference» (1980) Federico Fellini. But also recent works such as Anatomy of a Parachuteexternal reference“(2023) Justine Triet, who received the Palme d’Or at Cannes a few months ago, and the Old Oakexternal reference87-year-old British Ken Loach, who will present his new creation at the festival.

As is tradition, films in Piazza Grande will also be in Italian. In addition to the aforementioned “classics” by Federico Fellini, two more Italian feature films will be shown on the Locarno mega screen. On Friday, August 5, it will be possible to see the La Bella Estate.external referenceLaura Luchetti with Deva Cassel, talented daughter of Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci). Based on the novel of the same name by Cesare Pavese, the film, set in 1938, stars the young Ginia, who, having just moved to Turin from the countryside, indulges in her first great love during her “beautiful summer”, celebrating the courage to be – really yourself.

The second film, scheduled for Saturday, August 6, is called I’m Not Who I Am.external reference“, Shakespeare’s Othello, freely adapted by Edoardo Leo. The film reminds us that various Iago, Othello and Desdemona are still among us (unfortunately, the news is full of them). Set in the early 2000s (with the power of the dialect bringing the drama back to the present), Othello is a timeless tale that mixes good and evil in a whirlwind of deceit, betrayal and insane jealousy.

Very European international competition

However, the festival is judged primarily on the quality of the films entered in the competition. As already mentioned, this year “only” 17 works claim the “Golden Leopard”.external reference (in the “greedy” years of Irene Bignardi there were even 22-23 films), all in world premieres and one in international premieres, as required by the regulations of major festivals.

This year the artistic director of the international competition has focused on European cinema. Highlights from this release include Don’t Expect Too Much from the End of the World.external reference”, a new film by Romanian director Radu Yude, winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin last year; “Steppeexternal reference”, a very personal film by Ukrainian Marina Vroda, which is not directly related to the ongoing war; and The Disappearing Soldierexternal reference”, the second feature film by Israeli Dani Rosenberg: a 24-hour tragicomic journey through the hot and humid streets of Tel Aviv, an 18-year-old Israeli soldier who leaves the battlefield in Gaza to return to his girlfriend.

Switzerland will be represented by Portuguese-born Waldensian director Basile Da Cunha with Manga d’Terraexternal reference(Palexpo, Friday, August 4, 2:00 pm). The film tells the story of 20-year-old Rosa, who leaves Cape Verde to settle in Lisbon, where she seeks solace with women from the Cape Verdean community. But his true salvation is music. As the director says, “With Manga D’Terra, I wanted to pay homage to the women of Lisbon’s Reboleira district with a musical comedy that revisits the cosmic sounds of Cape Verde.”

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Two Italian films in competition

Two full-length films of Italian production also participate in the competition. Let’s start with the first work of Simone Bocelli “Patagonia”.external reference(Palexpo, Monday 7, 4:45 p.m.). Dreaming of the freedom of Patagonia, two boys, Yuri and Agostino, embark on a journey that will turn into a frenzy of control and captivity. The story of the vast expanses behind narrow walls, where Patagonia personifies freedom (and perhaps freedom does not exist).

The second Italian opera, claiming the “Golden Leopard”, is “Rossoperanza”.external reference” by Annarita Zambrano (Palexpo, Thursday, August 10, 4:45 pm). The film is about Xena, Marcia, Alfonso and Adriano, outcast children of decent people who meet at the expensive Villa Bianca where they were sent by their families to be made “normal”. It’s 1990, in Italy there are those who dance, those who love and those who watch. And there are those who kill.

Finally, let’s recall the competition “Film directors of our time.”external reference”, a retrospective dedicated to Mexican cinemaexternal reference and section “Open doorsexternal reference”, which promotes producers and filmmakers from countries with poorly funded film industries. Also of particular interest are the events, talks and round tables organized at the Forum Spazio Cinema.external reference.

Rossellini Award

Several movie stars are waiting in Locarnoexternal reference. From Cate Blanchett to Ken Loach, from Stellan Skarsgård to Barbet Schroeder, from Pietro Scalia (winner of two Oscars for editing) to Renzo Rossellini. The latter will receive the “Lifetime Achievement Award”, recognition of the results achieved during his career: the ceremony will take place (Thursday, August 10, in Piazza Grande).

Renzo Rosselliniexternal reference he was the producer of such masters of cinema as Federico Fellini, Werner Herzog and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as the assistant director of such personalities as Francois Truffaut and Claude Chabrol and, of course, his father Roberto. To pay tribute to Rossellini, after the awards ceremony, a film will be shown in the square presenting his work as a producer along with great authors: La città delle donne by Federico Fellini. The following day, Rossellini will meet the audience during a talk at the Forum Spazio Cinema.

The Hollywood strike and its aftermath

Locarno76 is also suffering from a strike of actors and writers in Hollywood. The first defection due to the strike was on the opening day: British actor of Pakistani origin Riz Ahmed, who was supposed to collect the “Award of Excellence” on the stage of Piazza Grande, refused the award and a trip to Locarno.

For his part, the Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård has decided, in solidarity, to forego the Leopard Club Award: the awards ceremony and the public talk have therefore been cancelled. Skarsgård will still be in Locarno to present a new film in which he is starring – Ran Huang’s “What’s Left” (2022) proposed in the Out of Competition section on Friday 4 August (with screenings also on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6). August).

Locarno is waiting for the actress and producer to close the festival. 2023 Vision

Australian-born actress Cate Blanchett, executive producer of Shaydaexternal reference” performed by Nura Niasari, who will close the 76th festival on Saturday, August 12, has not yet been determined.

Change of festival president

After 24 releases, President Marco Solari, who has led the film festival since 2000, steps down as president at the end of the festival. Under his leadership, the Locarno International Film Festival (as it was called when he arrived) grew significantly, especially from a financial point of view. As Solari himself recalled, “in 23 years we received 100 million francs from politics and partners.”

The present and past of the festival: Maya Hoffmann and Marco Solari. Keystone / Samuel Golay

Maya Hoffmann from Basel will replace him.external reference. A descendant of the family that founded the pharmaceutical company Roche, Maya Hoffmann, 67, is an art collector and president and founder of the LUMA Foundation, “one of the largest private cultural projects in Europe that has been encouraging the creation of art since 2004.” in the field of fine arts. She will be the first woman to headline the Locarno Film Festival.

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