Tag Archives: Locarno Festival

The Sundance breakout taking on gentrification

Winner of two awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is stylistically bold and dryly funny – a soulful tale of friendship, gentrification and solitude, set in the titular city.

Jimmie Fails – who shares a writing credit with Rob Richert and Joe Talbot, the film’s director – plays himself in a narrative partly informed by his own experiences. The film sees the onscreen Jimmie, close friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors) at his side, searching for home and belonging in a rundown part of SF.

An opportunity presents itself over in the Fillmore District when a Victorian-style house reportedly built by Jimmie’s grandfather is abruptly vacated by the current occupants in the now predominantly white neighbourhood. Jimmie sees a chance to reclaim the house, and all it represents to him – by any creative means necessary.

Huck spoke to Fails and Talbot at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where their film played outside of North America for the first time…

Full interview for Huck

John Waters on his new book, ‘Pink Flamingos’ and his TV cameos

“I never wanted to do cult,” John Waters says in reference to his filmography in light of the question of whether genuine cult films are still possible in the current age of new distribution strategies. “People liked it and it lost money. A few smart people liked it, the [financiers] want thousands of dumb people to like it!”

Speaking of thousands of people, if not necessarily all dumb, we’re speaking to Baltimore’s self-described ‘Pope of Trash’ a day ahead of him receiving an award at the Piazza Grande of Locarno, Switzerland, which hosts open air screenings for 8000 people each night as part of the Locarno Film Festival. For its 72nd edition, which took place in August, the festival honoured Waters with the Pardo d’onore Manor award for career achievement. Recipients of the Pardo d’onore at previous festivals have included Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, William Friedkin, Jia Zhang-ke, Werner Herzog, Agnès Varda and Todd Haynes…

Full interview for The Skinny

Locarno Film Festival 2019: The Skinny’s Highlights

Founded in 1946, Switzerland’s Locarno Festival is one of the world’s longest-running film festivals, known for its arthouse-favouring programming, extensive retrospectives and nightly open-air screenings in the Piazza Grande, which can seat 8000 spectators. The latter is by no means the only venue, but it’s the one most associated with the festival. Having attended for the first time last year, we often recall the memory of seeing Ethan Hawke’s directorial effort Blaze amid a rare torrential downpour in the otherwise scorching town.

Taking place by Lake Maggiore at the southern foot of the Swiss Alps, Locarno can be quite pricey to attend because almost none of the food on offer is cheap, but the very welcoming atmosphere makes up for a lot. The intermingling of public, industry and press attendees every night, particularly at select pubs open until 3am, is unlike any other festival we’ve experienced. Where else might you see Béla Tarr exit an otherwise amicable-seeming conversation with Pedro Costa with a “fuck off” before getting in a car? Hopefully that’s how he says goodbye to everyone…

Full feature for The Skinny

John Waters on camp, Trump and being Mr. Know-It-All

John Waters may not have writ­ten or direct­ed a new film in 15 years, but the mul­ti-faceted artist and queer icon – crowned ​The Pope of Trash” for his trans­gres­sive cult movies like Pink Flamin­gos (1972), Female Trou­ble (1974) and Poly­ester (1981) – is always up to some­thing.

A ret­ro­spec­tive of his visu­al arts career, titled Inde­cent Expo­sure, was exhib­it­ed in his native Bal­ti­more in 2018. He’s also a pro­lif­ic writer, with his fourth book in the last decade, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tar­nished Wis­dom of a Filth Elder, released in the UK this September…

Full interview for The Face

A Girl Missing (Kôji Fukada, 2019)

In Fukada Kōji’s Harmonium (2016), Tsutsui Mariko played a woman whose life was destroyed by tragic circumstances beyond her control. In this reunion of the actor and writer-director, Tsutsui is working in a similar mode, including playing someone before and after a significant time jump. Here, those timelines are presented in parallel, tracking, to largely deft effect, a transformation from a compassionate, pragmatic individual to a vengeful soul who’s lost everything…

Full review for Sight & Sound

“That summer we were all waiting for democracy to start”: Dominga Sotomayor on ‘Too Late to Die Young’

Too Late to Die Young is Chilean writer-director Dominga Sotomayor’s third feature, though the first since her well-regarded debut, Thursday til Sunday (2012), to receive much international distribution. The new work feels of a piece with the breakthrough film in its focus on the perspective of children and their burgeoning awareness of the complexities of their family situations. At the same time, that focus in the new effort is more expansive, with the juggling of a larger ensemble of both young and adult characters, and more ambitious in its evocation of a specific period and a unique setting rooted in Sotomayor’s own upbringing.

Set in Chile in summer 1990, in the run-up to New Year’s Eve, the film follows teenagers Sofía (Demian Hernández) and Lucas (Antar Machado) and ten-year-old Clara (Magdalena Tótoro) facing various disappointments while living in a partially built ecological settlement in the mountains just off from Santiago. Lucas pines for Sofía; Sofía is drawn to an older man and also longs to move away from the commune to live with her estranged mother; and Clara searches for her missing dog. There is relatively little narrative incident, with Sotomayor favouring a shaggy hangout vibe above a story prone to any concrete definitions. The film’s political underpinnings – it’s set just after the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship – are unobtrusive, relegated to the briefest of period signifiers and occasional dialogue allusions.

I spoke to Sotomayor at the Locarno Festival in 2018, where she became the first woman ever to win the Leopard award for Best Direction…

Full interview for Sight & Sound

Locarno Filmmakers Academy 2018: Meet Some of the World’s Most Exciting New Filmmakers

The annual Filmmakers Academy at the Locarno Festival in Switzerland selects some of the most promising talents in contemporary film from around the world, offering them vital networking opportunities, screenings at the festival for their existing short films, and masterclasses with a line-up of guest directors. This year’s talks from established filmmakers included musings from Bruno Dumont and festival jurors Jia Zhangke and Sean Baker.

During the festival, five participants spoke about their work to date, their aspirations, how the conditions for filmmaking in their home countries have informed their career progress so far, and what they expect to do next…

Full feature for IndieWire

The 10 best films from the 2018 Locarno Film Festival

As an indication of its ever-growing stature on the international film festival circuit, the current artistic director of Switzerland’s Locarno Festival for many years, Carlo Chatrian, has been snapped up to help programme the bigger Berlin Film Festival from 2020. As such, the 71st edition of Locarno seemed to have a bittersweet quality for the talkative festival veterans, as things might be very different next year. Even so, 2018 lived up to expectations of the event as an exciting space for new arthouse fare and as a celebration of older cinema that takes more offbeat choices in terms of paying tribute. We were particularly touched by the inspired choice to give the honorary Vision Award to title sequence designer Kyle Cooper (Se7en, among many credits), and not just because it gave programmers an excuse to screen Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film from a 35mm print.

Our personal highlight was the wealth of delights in the festival’s extensive retrospective of American filmmaker Leo McCarey, particularly a screening of The Awful Truth (1937) that had a packed audience in hysterics. That said, the new films on offer were hardly lacking in quality. In an unranked order, here are nine premiering feature highlights, plus one short. We should mention we were sadly unable to catch Mariano Llinás’ 14-hour La Flor, perhaps the most publicised title in competition this year…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor, 2018)

Recipient of this year’s Leopard for Best Direction in the International Competition at Locarno, Too Late to Die Young is not Dominga Sotomayor’s first feature since her debut breakthrough Thursday Till Sunday (2012), as the 58-minute Mar (2014) premiered in between. It does, however, feel like a direct continuation of that first feature’s preoccupation with the implications of parents’ life-altering decisions upon the children they take along for the ride. In Thursday Till Sunday, a road trip was the backdrop for a story of a teen discovering her parents may be separating, while Too Late to Die Young, which opens with another car journey, is concerned with multiple children being uprooted…

Full review for Sight & Sound

Locarno 2018. Interfaces and Headspaces

The so-called ‘desktop movie,’ a film visually told predominantly or entirely through the setup of a computer screen, has had a couple of high-profile examples over the last few years. Among these are Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows (2014), Patrick Cederberg and Walter Woodman’s short Noah (2013), and, most notably in terms of mainstream success, Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended (2014). 2018 would seem to be a major year for the genre, if you can call it a genre just yet, with the wide release of sequel Unfriended: Dark Web, Timur Bekmambetov’s Profile playing festivals, and now the release, through Sony, of Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching. It is worth noting that Bekmambetov also produced the two of those 2018 titles he didn’t direct, so there’s at least one benefactor devoted to making the form catch on. With the exception of something like Kevin B. Lee’s essay film Transformers: The Premake(2014), the desktop movies that have gained critical or commercial traction have tended to stick to the mode of horror. Given that the Internet’s terrors seem endless, it’s an understandable creative instinct. Searching stands out, though, as it’s firmly in the mode of an investigative thriller: after his 16-year-old daughter disappears, a desperate father (John Cho) breaks into her laptop to find any clues he can in order to find her. At this year’s Locarno Festival, Searching played late at night to up to 8,000 attendees in the open-air cinema at the Piazza Grande. In the context of the festival as a whole, an interesting comparison to the film came in the form of an entry in the festival’s Signs of Life strand, devoted to experimental cinema…

Full feature for MUBI Notebook