The Festival del film Locarno: Why?

Playback by Sho Miyake, one of 19 films in the international competition in Locarno

Playback by Sho Miyake, one of the 19 films in the Concorso internazionale in Locarno

Today is the press conference for the 65th edition of the Festival del film Locarno that will take place August 1-11. To find out all you need to know about the international competition, the Piazza Grande programme, special screenings, our numerous guests and much more, you can simply download the press dossier from the festival website(http://www.pardolive.ch). A few more surprises are in store, to be announced between now and the beginning of the event, so keep a close look out!

Since its inception, the Locarno Festival has had a profile as a bold and inquiring cinephile event, attentive to new aesthetic trends, geographical shifts, and rising young artists. Neo-realism, the New Wave, the new cinemas of the 1960-70s, the discovery of Asian and Iranian cinema… Locarno was able to recognise the main aesthetic movements in film from the post-war period to the present day, often serving both as sleuth and pioneer.

Film is constantly evolving, and today it is more fascinating than ever to observe these changes, assertions and journeys, from film to digital, from fiction to documentary, from the personal to the collective, from the poetic to the political.

It is an extremely stimulating time for auteur cinema. This might seem a paradoxical affirmation if you are familiar with the crisis that cinema in general has been undergoing for several years: the erosion of traditional funding systems, the growing lack of interest on the part of audiences, problems of auteur films in finding theatrical distribution and exhibition in so many countries around the world.

Although a particular notion of auteur cinema, current since the 1960s in Europe and elsewhere, may perhaps have become obsolete, around the world we are seeing pockets of resistance emerge, isolated but enduring, aware of their heritage but keen to put forward new ideas and solutions, which encourages optimism and rekindles the flame of cinema as a contemporary art.

Over the last decade we have witnessed the emergence of highly original and talented personalities in the areas of production and mise en scène. For them, it is about reinventing the cinema not only in aesthetic but also in economic terms, fighting inertia, giving back to the cinema its freedom, speed and poetic and social powers of intervention.

Luckily, their work has, most of the time, enjoyed pro-active support from numerous film festivals, at the very least those that desire to remain in the vanguard of creative film production, critics and film loving audiences.

The role of festivals is not just to show films, but to accompany, comment on and support them. Although the major festivals have long and intelligently served as showcases for world cinema, this is no longer enough. A cinephile festival must acquire real powers of intervention, by accelerating and encouraging recognition of a particular filmmaker, the emergence of a particular country on the film world map.

The Festival del film Locarno has been the first to claim, rightly, the role of laboratory, understanding that what appears experimental in terms of sound and image today may herald the cinematic language of tomorrow, initiate aesthetic revolutions, be they small or large.

Through its size and scope, Locarno has the means to show film in its many incarnations, to confront contemporary cinema with its history through retrospectives and tributes, while retaining a human dimension that avoids a scattergun effect, encourages a receptive atmosphere for films, conviviality and encounters with artistes.

A balance must be found between representing film in its different forms, from the most radical to the most accessible, and developing thinking in general about the aesthetic and moral issues at stake in cinema. To be able to offer an editorial line that is both open, generous, welcoming and conviction in its choices, that is the real challenge for the Festival del film Locarno.

To show films by Abel Ferrara, Alain Tanner, Jia Zhang-Ke, Maurice Pialat, Ernst Lubitsch, Vincente Minnelli, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Otto Preminger, Leos Carax in an international festival today is to affirm their currency and more or less direct influence on new generations of filmmakers and cinephiles. Locarno is where this dialogue between film history and contemporary and future film should continue, via screenings but also via encounters and debate between filmmakers, actors, producers and audiences.

My functions as the Locarno Festival’s Artistic Director enable me to develop on a wider scale the work of discovering and highlighting international young auteur cinema I began at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2004.

They enable me also to fulfil a duty to those admirable and historically essential filmmakers or major artistes who have made influential contributions to film, (actors, cinematographers, producers), by paying tribute to them in the finest manner.

Finally, they enable me to put into practice, with gratifyingly adequate   resources, the conviction that a festival must above all be useful, serve cinema and those who make it, and fight alongside them.

Demanding tastes, curiosity, fervour, usefulness: these are some of the essential qualities that an artistic director should bring to a good film festival. There are others, and intellectual choices should not overshadow the importance of good human relations. These few words cannot hope to cover a whole area of thought and activity that must, above all, confront reality, in building up a festival through ideas, friendships, decisions, travel and encounters.

Since its inception, cinema has been a window onto the world, onto mankind, onto the artist’s soul and his models.

A film festival should be a window onto this window.

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