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Carlo Chatrian, Locarno Artistic Director, introduces the festival in a few words

Locarno: The home of images

Carlo Chatrian words of introduction to the festival

Let’s start with the Piazza Grande films:

Ricki and the Flash tells a story that is extraordinary for American cinema, to wit, a mother who, having abandoned the home (the classical luxury villa) for a modest apartment to pursue her independent dreams, returns when it is in crisis, and, even if walking on eggshells, animates it with her personality, her look, her spirit. A family home, solid as a rock, is at the center of Philippe Le Guay’s new film, Floride. The man who lives there (an extraordinary performance by Jean Rochefort) seems, on the other hand, as fragile as his failing memory; and those walls are perhaps the only things he can hang onto…

A home in Ibiza is where the protagonist of Barbet Schroeder’s Amnesia, played by Marthe Keller, takes refuge. And it is a home, even if only seen from the outside, on a winter evening, that features what to my mind is the most beautiful scene in Lionel Baier’s La Vanité…

So, homes. Once they were in which sites expressed paternal authority was expressed, and as such were a notable target for that cinema movement which accompanied the desire to change society; now, today, the home has become an emotionally charged space. How can one not make the connection with the mood of uncertainty we are currently experiencing? Against the backdrop of the many homes that feature in the films in the program and in competition – there for you to discover – there are images of those multitudes who abandon their homes to take to the road. Or even more simply, those people who look anxiously at their homes, fearing to lose them from one day to the next.

Overtaken by the orgy of images in which we are constantly immersed, cinema may no longer be a home for the world; and yet the world still desperately needs a home. It is Chantal Akerman who most clearly articulates how this word can resonate. Her No Home Movie is a film about the end of a relationship that becomes an image of the end of a home. It is at the same time perhaps the finest tribute that can paid to a home as a place without any particular qualities yet endowed with enormous emotional value. Home is a space for sharing an emotion. In this sense, home functions to an extent as a frame, taking a portion of space, (and time) and confers a particular value upon it. So then film is perhaps the home we lack in terms of being able to read our very confusing present era.

Locarno is a home for film like every other festival – even if every director has the illusion that “his” festival is one that provides a more welcoming home than the others, and in our case a giant step forward will be taken when the new “home” becomes available. Like every other festival (well... maybe not really like all the others), Locarno is the place which preserves and renews that exchange between the gaze and a community, between a story that is shared and stories to be discovered. Hence our insistence that every year the Festival program gives due space to the re-reading of film history via awards, tributes, special programs. There is no home without a hearth, a place to come together, and listen to stories that come from all over the world and end up moving us deeply.

Histoire(s) du cinéma, which this year expands to include all the retrospective programs, is precisely that hearth, full of the many stories we have encountered over a year’s work which we have decided to share with you. Locarno’s stories this year bear the names of Marco Bellocchio and Michael Cimino, Marlen Khutsiev and Bulle Ogier, Edward Norton and Andy Garcia, Walter Murch and Georges Schwizgebel. We are grateful to them for having accepted our invitation. Finally, I like the thought that the filmmaker least likely to evoke the idea of home should be the subject of our major tribute within this program. 

As you know, #Locarno68 is devoting its retrospective to Sam Peckinpah, who, when he filmed a home, in The Osterman Weekend turned it into a theater of modern warfare! And yet the films of this director, whose name evokes deserts and guns, outlaws and punch-ups, have also become a home, in their own way, in the sense that many people all over the world have elected to make it theirs. And I believe that if Peckinpah has so many admirers it is not only because he is an extraordinary director but because at the heart of his stories there is a palpable feeling of belonging that is the basis for every union. One has only to watch that unforgettable sequence in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, accompanied by the lyrical “Knockin’on Heaven’s Door”, which depicts a woman’s farewell to her partner, for us to understand that home is far more than merely four walls.

The Concorso internazionale offers a program in which two first films play alongside those of a group of directors who have gained an appreciative audience on the international festival circuit. Some of them are making a welcome return to Locarno, others have returned to filmmaking after a long silence. As is now a Locarno tradition, the competition includes documentaries, personal films, more traditional fictions and those of hybrid genres.

The Concorso Cineasti del presente, for first and second films, is a hotbed for the cinema of the future. This year we are very pleased with a selection that reflects the stylistic, formal and geographical diversity we hold so dear. Fictions enhanced by top-notch casts, and film essays, politically important works, and touching dramas that all reflect the way young filmmakers see film and the world around them. A work of discovery carried on also by the Pardi di domani section, that presents in its two competitions short and medium length films made by Swiss and international young filmmakers. Signs of Life is the section for films that experiment with new forms of narrative. It comprises 8 titles, all world premieres, each of which offers up a unique visual and audio experience. We are delighted for the section to host established filmmakers such as José Luis Guérin, Pierre Léon, Massimo d’Anolfi and Martina Parenti, Travis Wilkerson and others whose visionary qualities are about to be discovered. This year the Fuori concorso section welcomes, more than ever, films of great human and artistic profundity from renowned filmmakers such as Claire Simon, Andrea Segre, Stéphane Goël, Alberto Fasulo. Rounding out the program there is the short film section and work that veers off the beaten track.

The Piazza Grande program enables a journey through space and time, with films that revisit moments in past and recent history and those that investigate present day emotional journeys. There is an exceptionally strong American presence, with 4 very different films in which tears and laughter, adrenalin and emotion take over. In addition to the 16 feature films the Piazza Grande program this year also includes 3 short films. These are works of varying lengths that enchanted us, above all for their visionary and poetic qualities: from the Chauvet cave in Le dernier passage, to the journey through a timeless world imagined by Mario Martone, and the latest jewel from Georges Schwizgebel. There are 7 Swiss films in these sections, all characterized by their own unique stamp. In addition to his latest film, Erlkönig, Schwizgebel also warrants a tribute to his entire career.

The Piazza Grande will also feature the above-mentioned Amnesia and La Vanité. Particularly noteworthy is the project of the portmanteau film, Heimatland, which I am sure will have a major impact on its autumn release, and not just because it brings together the best of the new generation of Swiss filmmakers. Original and touching, Keeper sees Kacey Mottet Klein in a leading role. There are two films Fuori concorso, Stéphane Goël’s Fragments du paradis and Yes No Maybe by Kaspar Kasics.

Carlo Chatrian, Artistic Director

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