Marco Solari said festival could “continue to rank among the greatest festivals in the world, improving the efficiency of its organisation.”

Marco Solari, president of the Locarno Film Festival since 2000, described the event’s current international profile as “still too weak and vulnerable” at a cocktail reception held before the world premiere screening of The Sweeney on the Piazza Grande.

Speaking to an audience including the Swiss Culture and Interior Minister Alain Berset and Locarno’s Mayor Carla Speziali, Solari recalled that he had made a promise in 2000 when the festival was “suffering probably the greatest crisis in its history, [that it] would revive robust, respected and held in awe.”

“Today, in 2012, we can take great satisfaction in confirming that this objective has been achieved. We owe this to all those who have believed in the festival, to its artistic directors and its organisational staff,“ he said

Looking forward to the festival’s 75th anniversary in 2022, Solari suggested that Locarno would “continue to rank among the greatest festivals in the world, improving the efficiency of its organisation. But a bigger challenge will be to develop its international reputation, maintaining at the same time the rigour of its artistic choice, the freedom and autonomy of its artistic direction.”

And addressing Minister Berset by name, he continued that the festival should be one “that gives a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard, that courageously denounces abuses of power and injustice, the first to highlight everything new that is happening in the world.”

An objective already achieved? “No, ladies and gentlemen, it is only so in terms of our national and perhaps European perception, but I tell you that our international profile is still too weak and vulnerable,” Solari declared.

“We must commit ourselves to strengthening it and we are only at the beginning of this process. There are many decision-makers and opinion-leaders here, I ask you to achieve this objective as you did 12 years ago to save the festival. In 10 years, for the 75th anniversary, we must have achieved an international presence that equals what we have now accomplished at a national and European level.”

Meanwhile, in an interview given by “Mister Locarno” to the Swiss tabloid Blick on the eve of this year’s festival, the 67-year-old dismissed any talk of retiring. “I’ll stay as long as the people continue to appreciate my work. So long as I can secure the financing and have not lost my manager qualities, there isn’t any reason to go.”

In the interview, Solari described each edition of the festival as like climbing the North face of the Eiger: “I must succeed in combining the organisational, the financial and the artistic,” he said. “Each year, I have to rustle up almost five million Franken in the private sector – and five million in public monies. That’s something I can only achieve if I have the full confidence of the business and political leaders.”