Informative plattform of International Federation of Film Societies- Féderation Internationalle des Ciné-clubs- Federación Internacional de Cine Clubes
After a couple of hours on a plane and the same in an airconditioned buss, courtesy of Locarno Film Festival I arrived at the festival office, I got my accreditation, hotel information and the traditional goodie bag. A couple hours later I found myself at the breathtaking (at least for a cinephile as myself) Piazza Grande, an outdoors cinema with seats for 8000 movie hungry spectators. The glamour factor was instantaneously and the combination was hilarious, Luc Besson and JeanPierre Léaud on the same stage. Heavyweighters in their own right.
Unfortunately for me the ceremony was in French and Italian, so all I could do was to guess what glorious phrases was uttered (a course in French is in my todo list). I was quick to learn that The Piazza Grande screen was impressive in more ways than size; the picture was crystal sharp and made the tourdeforce of pop references Lucy (2014) a dear and special experience.
The jury duty started the next day, with La Princesa de Francia by Mattias Pinhero and the heavyhitter Mula sa kung ano ang noon by Lav Diaz (From What is Before, 2014). I was both excited and, to be honest, a bit nervous to be judging a 5 hour 45 minutes feature my first day as a jurymember, but the experience was a strongly rewarding one (the film won our Don Quijote prize, and basically every other prize at the festival, including best feature by the official jury (The Golden Leopard)). Our schedule was easy to conform to, a film at 14:00 and one at 16:30 every day. But with the diversity of films screening this year it was somewhat a challenge to have such a short interval between the movies, we didn’t really get the chance to discuss or let the films from 14:00 set before the next one. To take notes quickly became a must.
The competition program this year, as mentioned, was vast, both in quality and in themes. But I must admit the quality was high throughout, and the program reflected a drive to be daring in its selections. To screen the lengthy Lav Diaz film is in itself a feat, even though Diaz has become more of a household name in the last years. The program also featured the newest feature of Pedro Costa, a close friend and colleague in the «slow cinema» wave with Diaz. Other notable directors were Eugéne Green, Martin Rejtman, Yury Bykov and Alex Ross Perry as far as my preknowledge goes. Bykov and Costa got our honorable mentions this year, two solid features in completely different ways.
The festival had a fantastic retrospective about the Italian production company Titanus, and I had the pleasure of catching a few of the films after our daily duty. The festival also catered films from the juries, with names such as Connie Nielsen, Rutger Hauer, Gianfranco Rosi, Diao Yinan and more. The festival also included a shortfilm competition, a new director’s competition, qna’s and a diversity of happenings all throughout the festival.
A great thing about the Locarno festival is the ability to meet some of the huge and important names of filmhistory. I myself got to meet Agnes Varda, Rutger Hauer, Pedro Costa, Lav Diaz, Jonathan Pryce and Garret Brown (the inventor of steadicam, which also had a marvelous master class) to name a few. The wall between the audience and the stars was basically non-existent, a gem for a cinephile. So: the possibility to meet your idols, watch fantastic movies and eat great food is great plusses for the festival. But, of course, nothing’s for free, and that’s one of the downsides to the festival: it’s pretty expensive, even to me from Norway. I would (being a student) most certainly not be able to attend the festival if it wasn’t for the support I got from both the festival and my national film society federation (NFK). Another mention for the minus is that there was some lack of planning and organizing on the behalf of our independent jury, I missed some scheduling from the festival to make us feel as special as a jury should feel. For example the FEVI screening hall had something like 40 comfort seats reserved for the main juries. The seats never filled up, and would have been good for our, at times tiring work and behinds. It felt at times a little clinic and hasty and it was very clear that we were a secondary jury. But all in all the festival was a great experience seeing that it is the movies it is all about.