Locarno unveils very French line-up for 64th edition
by Emmanuel Cuénod
13/07/2011 - France, Switzerland, USA, Romania and Japan: these are the five main countries represented at the Locarno International Film Festival, which will run from August 3-13. For its 64th edition – which will also be the second headed by Olivier Père, former delegate general of the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight –, the festival has programmed the latest films by Nicolas Klotz (Low Life, in International Competition); Patricia Mazuy (Girls’ Sport [trailer], to screen on the Piazza Grande); Hitoshi Matsumoto (Scabbard Samurai, on the Piazza Grande); Adrian Sitaru (Din Dragoste Cu Cele Mai Bune Intenti, in International Competition); Fernand Melgar (Special Flight, in International Competition); Mia Hansen-Love (Goodbye First Love [trailer, film focus], in International Competition); and Azazel Jacobs (Terri, in International Competition).
With four films out of the 20 in International Competition, France enjoys a record presence at Locarno. "This is an exceptional year, in which Gallic productions have been of an outstanding quality", said Père, downplaying this presence somewhat. He then added: "Moreover, there were also four French films in Competition at Cannes this year".
Represented by three films in International Competition (Special Flight, as well as Frédéric Choffat and Julie Gilbert’s Mangrove [trailer] and Milagros Mumenthaler’s Open Windows, Open Doors), Switzerland isn’t overshadowed for once. The event’s director commented teasingly: "All I can say is that these productions are far removed from the clichés people may have about Switzerland and its cinema".
All countries and sections taken together, the 2011 line-up, unveiled today in Berne, once again gives pride of place to major arthouse films. As Père emphasised, the festival wanted to reassert its "active role in the safeguarding and exhibition of independent, vibrant films that stimulate the eyes and the mind". Whence, also, the event’s repositioning, which began last year, around its two competitive sections, the International Competition (with a strong focus on auteur cinema) and Filmmakers of the Present (for debut and second features).
This strategy can also be found in the choice of names to be honoured this year at Locarno. These of course include the Leopard of Honour, to be awarded on August 5 to New York’s enfant terrible Abel Ferrara (see news), and the more low-key Raimondo Rezzonico Prize for Best Independent Producer, which will be presented on August 9 to Mike Medavoy – the man behind Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and, more recently, Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island.
With a retrospective dedicated to Vincente Minelli and the European premiere of Jon Favreau’s blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens, which will bring a dose of glamour to Locarno with expected guests including Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, festival-goers will nonetheless get the chance to immerse themselves in more mainstream films, which are symbolised at Locarno by the giant, open-air screen in the Piazza Grande. People say it is a magical place. At least on the evenings when it doesn’t rain.
(Translated from French)