And the Locarno Film Festival has been seventy-five years old, which however loses nothing of the luster of its leopard-print colors. Even this year, yellow and black decorate every corner of the placid Swiss town overlooking Lake Maggiore and which is in the middle of the event. The festival, which opened on August 3, is about to end with the awarding of the traditional Golden Leopard and in 2022 he returned to live with the passion of the past his most famous theater, that of the Piazza Grande, where open-air screenings are held every evening capable of accommodating up to 8000 people.
Holiday climate, mountains and lake to frame, many tourists but also a crucial hub for the meetings of the cinema industry between Germany, France and Italy: in Locarno it sways between a local and an international dimension, with the same ease with which one goes to bathe today and enjoy a hike tomorrow. The festival is for the second year under the leadership of Giona A. Nazzaro, brilliant Italian critic who took over from the other great Italian conductor Carlo Chatrian, who moved to the Berlinale. In exchange, after the adjustment of the post-pandemic 2021 vintage, Locarno seems to have rediscovered itself as pop and playfulcertainly more heterogeneous after years of building a precious credibility made of hard and pure cinephilia.
The eye to popular American cinema, however, has always been there, and is confirmed this year with the kinetic action opening of Bullet Train with Brad Pitt. Ideal to satisfy the collective palate of Piazza Grande and instill a sense of excitement in the opening festival, although perhaps not indicative of Locarno’s most authentic soul. A fate that has united all the most prominent productions and the faces of the most recognizable stars. Also Juliette Binochein an unprecedented role as a truck driver on the roads of deep America, he did not convince in Paradise Highwayand the same was true for the film adaptation of the book “romance“Successful The Swamp Girlwhich also made use of the presence of the young star Daisy Edgar-Jones.
So better to look at Italian films, which offered an interesting insight into our local productions. The comedy side was embellished by the diversity and originality of The pataffio by Francesco Lagi, a ragged medieval adventure that recalls The brancaleone army and brings together a wealth of comic talents (Tirabassi, Mastandrea, Gassman, Musella). The genre of pure drama, almost a neo-western, he proposed Delta from Michele Vannuccia tense story of manhunt set in the world of illegal fishing on the Po delta. And again for the proposals that are not often found in our cinemas, Gigi reads it is a documentary-fiction hybrid about a provincial policeman who travels between the real and the surreal.
Numerous i characters who have come to visit Locarno these days who have been awarded prizes and who have met the publicby the stars Matt Dillon to Aaron Taylor-Johnson up to directors of the caliber of Costa-Gavras and Kelly Reichardt. Symbols of a cinema arthouse which still resists, and which in Locarno always finds a friendly environment. The series of Postcards from the future short films commissioned by the festival from a group of famous directors, and screened before this year’s films, also reminds us of this, with some very nice ideas about the future of cinema and the human relationship with the city. He even made one Aleksandr Sokurovaccompanying his film Skazka who imagines Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini having a conversation in purgatory. A strong title of the competition for a veteran of cinema, who here competes with young authors and new revelations.
Among the surprises of the International Competition section are the Portuguese-Angolan Nação Valente by Carlos Conceição, with his military treatise on history and colonialism, and the shocking Bowling Saturne by the French Patricia Mazuy, who with a couple of very controversial scenes rekindled the debate on how far auteur cinema should go.
We will never find the answer, but Locarno remains the right place to continue talking about it.