As Eric Kohn writes at Indiewire, this is a festival that’s “rapidly increased its global profile” in the past few years, thanks in no small part to artistic director Olivier Père—who surprised everyone at the end of last year’s edition by resigning after just three years. Pére, who’d previously run Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, moved on to the German-French television network Arte, “and his replacement, Carlo Chatrian, had massive shoes to fill,” writes Kohn at the top of his interview with the new artistic director. “Chatrian, a soft-spoken Italian journalist and critic who had aided in the programming of the festival for several years, lacked the same high profile that Pére.” Still, “aided in part by director of programming and fellow Locarno stalwart Mark Peranson, Chatrian has assembled a typically promising lineup.”
Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli also interviews Chatrian, noting that he’s “recruited more known names for the competition, among them prolific South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo, France’s Claire Simon and Brazilian cult veteran Julio Bressane…. Chatrian’s only imperative is making ‘diversity of the mix my mantra.’ He adds, ‘Today the significance of the notion of being avant-garde has perhaps worn a little thin.’ That said, the venerable fest dedicated to compelling cinema and discoveries has not lost its edge.”
Last year, I tried to squeeze all the coverage of the noteworthy reviews coming out of Locarno 2012 into one entry—which rapidly became an unwieldy mess. This year, I’ll aim to post shorter, separate entries on individual films, even if some of them turn out to be very short indeed. Return to this one to watch an index in the making and for links to more generalized coverage.
Meantime, Eric Kohn previews “five potential breakouts from this year’s program.” Sam Adams introduces this year’s Critics Academy, run by Indiewire, the Swiss Association of Film Journalists, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and a new partner FRED Radio. And Variety‘s opened a special section on Locarno.
Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears.
Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition.
Hong Sang-soo’s Our Sunhi.
Thomas Imbach’s Mary Queen of Scots.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Real.
Joaquim Pinto’s What Now? Remind Me.
Corneliu Porumboiu’s When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism.
Albert Serra’s Story of My Death.
Claire Simon’s Gare du Nord.
Daniel and Diego Vega’s The Mute.
David Wnendt’s Wetlands.
CINEMA OF THE PRESENT
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana.
OUT OF COMPETITION: SIGNS OF LIFE
Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness.
OUT OF COMPETITION
Claire Simon’s Human Geography.
In Cinema Scope, Celluloid Liberation Front considers the oeuvre of Otar Iosseliani, who, “if anything, is a sab-auteur, undermining the presumptions of art cinema to reaffirm the vanishing wisdom of craftsmanship.” Iosseliani, accepting his Golden Leopard for lifetime achievement, as quoted by Eric J. Lyman in the Hollywood Reporter: “We have to remember that the Venice Film Festival was founded by Mussolini, and now it is leaning back in that direction…. Despite the good work of [Cannes president] Gilles Jacob, Cannes sold its soul to the major studios a long time ago. It’s only Locarno remains dedicated to art house cinema and intellectual reflection. It is only Locarno that is willing to take risks to defend artistic films.”
From August 14 through 16, Locarno pays tribute to Paulo Rocha with the world premiere of his last film, If I Were a Thief… I’d Steal (2012), and screenings of his two first films, The Green Years (1963) and a new digitally restored version of Change of Life (1966) supervised by Pedro Costa, as the first of a global restoration project dedicated to the work of Rocha.
And of course, it’s still Herzog Season.
Tara Karajica for Criticwire: “French veteran film critic Pierre Rissient, once assistant to Jean-Luc Godard, considers that George Cukor‘s unique talent was ‘his sense of nurturing the acting, of creating characters which audiences could identify with, especially in comedy, but also in drama.'” Update, 8/23: “The darker side of fame and the sinister aftertaste of success are recurring features in many of Cukor’s films,” writes Celluloid Liberation Front in the Notebook. “In It Should Happen to You (1954) Cukor pushes even further with his reflections on the elusive matter of celebrity and the role that mono-dimensional images play in projecting the illusion of limelight.”
Update, 8/21: Lukas Foerster rates the many films he caught in Locarno.
Update, 8/23: “One of the best films I saw at Locarno Film Festival this year was a mere 20 minutes long.” Michael Pattison surveys the Fuori concorso Shorts section. And the film he refers to here in Criticwire, by the way, is Benny Jaberg’s The Green Serpent: Of Vodka, Men and Distilled Dreams.