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Carlo Chatrian • Artistic Director, Locarno Film Festival

"Locarno has perhaps always been freer than other festivals in its acceptance of new proposals"


- Cineuropa met up with Carlo Chatrian, the artistic director of Locarno Film Festival, to discuss the imminent launch of the festival’s 71st edition

Carlo Chatrian • Artistic Director, Locarno Film Festival
(© Locarno Festival / Marco Abram)

Cineuropa met up with Carlo Chatrian, the artistic director of Locarno Film Festival, to discuss the imminent launch of the festival’s 71st edition, as well as some of its new features and why the festival hopes to open its doors to new and independent cinema.

Cineuropa: What's the common thread linking the films at the 71st edition of Locarno Film Festival?
Carlo Chatrian
: The 71st edition of Locarno Film Festival comes with a few new features, the opening film on the Piazza Grande (Liberty by Leo McCarey), in particular. A film that is by no means a new release – having been initially released in 1928 – but one that will nevertheless be making its debut on the Piazza Grande, where it will be accompanied by live music. The film is linked to our retrospective and is a slapstick film, as they were called at the time. The film's two very well-known characters are played by two extraordinary actors, Laurel and Hardy. This is the festival’s first new feature and highlights the programme’s theme, at least on the Piazza Grande – a programme full of comedy and laughter. Another new feature concerns the first television series to be screened on the Piazza Grande, Coincoin and the Extra-Humans by Bruno Dumont, a very different sort of comedy, both surreal and slightly grotesque, which is enhanced by its disenchanted outlook on the world. This series will certainly open the doors to the beginning of the festival’s 71st edition.

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You will be at the helm of the Berlinale from 2019 onwards, what impression do you think you'll leave behind on Locarno and how do you hope the festival will evolve?
I will start working at the Berlinale in 2019 but my first edition as artistic director will be in 2020. As for now, I'm entirely focused on Locarno and I’m unable to look back on the festival retrospectively, I prefer not to. I find it hard to know what I've left to the festival, to use your words. I hope I have helped the festival to evolve by continuing to follow a path that had already previously been established. A path that is committed to giving a voice to independent and auteur cinema, as well as some more surprising projects. I think there are several in the programme this year, such as the films I’ve previously mentioned, but also the fact that we're going to screen the longest film in the festival's history (La flor by Mariano Llinás). Locarno Film Festival has always been a very free festival, perhaps freer than other festivals in its acceptance of new proposals.

How has Swiss cinema evolved during your years at Locarno? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
In terms of gender equality, Swiss cinema has always given great importance to women directors since I've been involved, so around fifteen years or so. This year we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming one of the most well-known women directors in Switzerland, Bettina Oberli, who will be screening her new film Le Vent tourne in the Piazza Grande. To give you an example of the new generation of directors in attendance at the festival, the young documentary director Nicole Vögele will also be at Locarno (in the Filmmakers of the Present section) with her second film Closing Time. Her first film, Fog [+see also:
film profile
, was screened at the Berlinale, which is an extremely positive sign. I’d also like to emphasise the variety of Swiss film proposals: there are directors who work on fiction films, such as Denis Rabaglia, for example, who will be screening a comedy called Un nemico che ti vuole bene on the Piazza Grande, a film that is not necessarily a festival film. On the other hand, there are directors who focus more on independent or documentary cinema, which is also extremely positive. Some of the difficulties we've faced and the things we still need to work on are obviously linked to the fact that Switzerland is a small country, divided into three (or rather four) linguistic areas, and consequently also three different areas of production. Switzerland often fails to make itself heard in the balance of power at a co-production level. And as we know, co-productions are essential to the livelihood of Swiss cinema.

Do you think that Locarno Film Festival will open up to the world of TV series in the future?
We wanted to show the Dumont series at the 71st edition of the festival because we liked it, and it was surprising and funny. The nice thing about Dumont's work and Coincoin and the Extra-Humans, is that it’s a light-hearted, grotesque film, but it also says a lot about the world we live in, such as the relationship we have with immigrants, the fact that we don't recognise ourselves in each other, closed communities, it makes me think of France, but also Italy and Switzerland. In terms of the future, we'll see. This is definitely a new feature for this year's edition. I have always said that in order to screen TV series at film festivals we need to find the right way of going about it. Replaying a series in a cinema that has already been broadcast on TV doesn’t really make sense to me, while screening an episode is tantamount to screening a film, so you have to find the right way to do it.

(Translated from Italian)

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