Daily | Locarno 2014 | Golden Leopard for Lav Diaz

From What Is Before

‘From What Is Before’

Lav Diaz‘s From What Is Before has won the Golden Leopard at the 67th Locarno Film Festival. “Is this the victory of Slow Cinema over Fast Cinema?” asks the festival. “Everything is Cinema for me, so I don’t want to label things,” says Diaz. “I want to dedicate this award to my father. He brought me Cinema, he’s a cinema addict, and he started this passion in me. For the filipino people, it’s for them, for their struggle, and then I would like to dedicate it to all serious filmmakers in the world, to Pedro Costa, he’s my brother and I love his work, to Matías Piñeiro, and to the makers of all the other films in the competition.”

Costa’s won Best Director for Horse Money, “the one film in Locarno (aside from JLG‘s Adieu au langage, but that’s outside of the main program) that feels entirely new,” writes Adam Cook in the Notebook, “and yet it is firmly attached to the old, not just thematically, but stylistically. Its minimalist, stripped-down sequence of almost-still compositions and gestural observation feel imported and translated from silent and classical cinema (expressionism, genre movies, etc.). Costa uses light and shadow to work with texture and geometry, creating a such a level of visual richness that the shots are barely long enough to fully absorb them. In fact, these are not just the most beautiful images here in Locarno, but some of the most stunning of all I’ve seen in cinema—each shot its own complete world of depth and feeling.” More from Giorgia Del Don (Cineuropa), Scott Foundas (Variety), Eric Kohn (Indiewire) and James Lattimer (House Next Door).

A special jury award goes to Alex Ross Perry‘s Listen Up Philip, and we’ve been gathering reviews here.

The Leopard for the Best Actor goes to Artem Bystov for his performance in Yuri Bykov’s The Fool. Berlin-based M-Appeal has picked up world sales rights to the film, report Variety‘s Leo Barraclough and John Hopewell. “Frank Capra would have approved of The Fool, a forceful Russian drama in which a lone plumber stands up to a corrupt system on behalf of the people living in a squalid apartment building,” writes Variety‘s Peter Debruge. “With giant cracks running from the foundation to the roof, the crumbling structure could be a metaphor for the country itself, insinuating that decades of embezzling and all-around mismanagement have left things in a precarious state.”

Best Actress goes to Ariane Labed for her performance in Lucie Borleteau’s Fidelio, Alice’s Journey. For James Lattimer, dispatching to the House Next Door, “the one saving grace of Fidelio are the striking images it throws up of life at sea on the Fidelio, the creaking old freighter where our unrealistically attractive heroine Alice (Ariane Labed) gets a new position as a feisty mechanic. Needless to say, this is the sort of plausibility-challenging film where the captain of the ship just so happens to be Alice’s ex-lover; she’s able to breezily sift through her deceased predecessor’s possessions undisturbed; and this apparently strong woman in control of her sexuality appears oddly pleased at getting promoted for fucking the captain.”

A Special Mention goes to Gabriel Mascaro for August Winds. Paul Dallas, dispatching to Filmmaker: “The titular August winds are partially responsible for the appearance of a corpse, which becomes the boy’s obsession—and a wedge separating him from the other villagers. The film is the fiction debut of Brazilian documentarian Gabriel Mascaro, and his images of life in a remote fishing village have a bracing tactility.” More from Eric Kohn (Indiewire), Boyd van Hoeij (Hollywood Reporter) and Jay Weissberg (Variety).

Ricardo Silva’s Navajazo has won the Golden Leopard in the Cinema of the Present section, and you can see a list of all further awards here.

Update, 8/17: James Lattimer at the House Next Door on Navajazo: “Flecked with hypnotic essay-film passages that meld impressionistic video and 16mm footage of Tijuana with intertitles detailing how cancer spreads, the film otherwise jumps back and forth between a set of equally degenerate protagonists. These include a Gene Simmons lookalike singing mordantly funny synthesiser numbers, an American porn director casting his next production (which is to focus on true love), a junkie couple shooting up and getting it on, and two battle-hardened men willing to fight for money. Much of what these protagonists do, or are made to do, in front of the camera is depraved or even exploitative, but still gruesomely compulsive to watch, with the total lack of delineation between staging and real life adding an additional layer of fascination. (rockstarjackets) ”

Update, 8/23: “Its title may be a Spanish word meaning ‘knife wound,’ but Ricardo Silva’s pseudo-apocalyptic, sophomorically provocative debut Navajazo is much too surface-skimming to draw blood, let alone cut deep,” finds Neil Young in the Hollywood Reporter.

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