German cinema has a high profile Olivier Pere’s first outing as artistic director of the Locarno International Film Festival this year.
No less than four of the 18 titles selected by Pere for the International Competition were produced with German involvement, ranging from the world premieres of Benedek Fliegauf’s first English language film Womb, Pia Marais’ second feature At Ellen’s Age, and Serbian filmmaker Oleg Novkovic’s White White World to the international premiere of Bruce LaBruce’s LA Zombie with porn star Francois Sagat in the lead. (LaBruce’s film is a co-production between Germany, USA and France.)
The current Romanian film wave will also make itself felt in Locarno this year with world premieres of two first features: Marian Crisan’s Morgen and Bogdan George Apetri’s Periferic, while the home nation Switzerland is represented by Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond’s first feature La Petite Chambre and Katalin Gödrös’ Songs Of Love And Hate.
Out of 18 selected titles, the International Competition has 15 world premieres, but is showing only two films from North America: the international premiere of US director Aaron Katz’s Cold Weather and the world premiere of Canadian Denis Cote’s Curling.
Commenting on this year’s programme, Pere said that one characteristic is “common to all the various festival sections: the youthfulness of the filmmakers, whether they belong to the new generation of international cinema auteurs or are making their directorial debut, proof of the vitality of creative production, and the Festival’s curiosity about all genres and forms of independent production.”
The nightly open-air programme on Locarno’s Piazza Grande will be kicked off this year by the world premiere of Benoit Jacquot’s French-German co-production Au Fond Des Bois and be closed by local Swiss filmmaker Paul Riniker’s Little Paradise (Sommervögel).
This section, which aims to include films of the widest appeal for audiences of up to 8,000 or more each night, will include the international premiere of Baran bo Odar’s thriller The Silence, with Ulrich Thomsen and Burghart Klaussner (which had its world premiere at Filmfest München last month), Marvin Kren’s debut feature Rammbock about zombies taking over the streets of Berlin, as well as the world premiere of the Russian animation film The Ugly Duckling by Garri Bardine.
In addition, the Piazza Grande will be the venue for the world premiere of Eran Riklis’ new feature The Mission Of The Human Resources Manager, as well as the screening of a new print of the 1942 film To Be Or Not To Be as part of this year’s Ernst Lubitsch retrospective.
In addition to the previously announced Leopards of Honour for Alain Tanner and Jia Zhang-ke and the Excellence Award to actress Chiara Mastroianni, this year’s Raimondo Rezzonico Award for the best independent producer will go this year to the veteran Israeli producer-director Menahem Golan.
Details about this year’s programme including the various sidebars and special events can be found at www.pardo.ch.
In addition to unveiling its programme, Locarno also showed that it is not planning to be left behind by other international film festivals as far as fringe activities are concerned. After creating its own co-production event, the festival has now entered into the field of training with the launching of a pilot project, the Locarno Summer Academy (August 5-11), which aims to foster an exchange of knowledge between the generations “and thus sustain the flow of new blood into film, in Switzerland and abroad.”
The initiative, which is being organised in collaboration with Lugano’s Swiss Italian University Film Summer School, will be open to 20 young professionals or film students from around the world, who will be benefit from the knowhow and experience of such speakers as documentary filmmaker Christian Frei, producer Peter Rommel, casting director Beatrice Krüger and Georges Goldenstern of Cannes’ Cinefondation.
Speaking at the festival’s press conference in Berne on Wednesday, festival president Marco Solari warned of the danger that Locarno could be relegated from the top league of international film festivals if it didn’t receive sufficient financial support in future.
The festival’s budget had increased from CHF 4m to CHF 11m in his ten-year tenure as festival president, and he suggested that it was “absolutely essential” that the central Swiss government soon increase its subsidy for the festival by around CHF 400,000.