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Good harvest or bad harvest ?

For me a very positive Festival, professionally important with great contacts and needed feedbacks on my first editing for the documentary “ON LOCATION”. Reaching now the 2 years of production, it proves I wasn’t so wrong on the project.

Otherwise Festival is now part of the 1st class European festivals and is more and more loosing of the energetic sort of “amateurish” enthusiasm and turned into an “industry well framed” standardized event. One clue is on how they turned the people flow from chaotic into a super precise and guided stream. It means as well less movies, more people and crowded locations. Impossible to enter the theaters ? Yes once again just like 2 years ago.

On the editorial line, I believe recession and crisis is still very present and artists answer to it is to create movies with neurasthenic characters. It becomes boring. Better off dead than alive seems the moto of Westerners…so hopefully the rest of the world brings a positive light in the tunnel balance. And guess who won ?

For me the winners were people going to the Agnes Varda Masterclass and the Garrett Brown ‘s one. If anything to remember this year :

 

See you next year Locarno..and why not for a screening ? 😉

 

So like in very recap , here below the awards list :

(I am very happy for the Matka Ziemia, Muerte Blanca and Navajazo movies ! )

Concorso internazionale
Pardo d’oro   Mula sa kung ano ang noon di Lav Diaz, Filippine
Premio speciale della giuria
  Listen Up Philip di Alex Ross Perry, USA
Pardo per la migliore regia
(Best Director)
  Cavalo Dinheiro di Pedro Costa, Portogallo
Pardo per la miglior interpretazione femminile (Best Actress)
  Ariane Labed per Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice di Lucie Borleteau, Francia
Pardo per la miglior interpretazione maschile (Best Actor)
  Artem Bystrov per Durak di Yury Bykov, Russia
Special Mention
  Ventos de Agosto di Gabriel Mascaro, Brasile
    Concorso Cineasti del presente
Pardo d’oro Cineasti del presente – Premio Nascens   Navajazo di Ricardo Silva, Messico
Premio per il miglior regista emergente (Best Director)
  La creazione di significato di Simone Rapisarda Casanova, Canada
Premio speciale della giuria
Ciné+ Cineasti del presente
  Los Hongos di Oscar Ruiz Navia, Colombia
Special Mention
  Un jeune poète di Damien Manivel, Francia
    Opera prima
Pardo per la migliore opera prima
(Best First Feature)
  Songs from the North di Soon-mi YOO, Stati Uniti, Corea del Sud, Portogallo
Special Mention
  Parole de kamikaze di Masa SAWADA, Francia
    Pardi di domani (Concorso internazionale)
Pardino d’oro per il miglior cortometraggio internazionale
Premio SRG SSG
  Abandoned Goods di Pia Borg, Edward Lawrenson, Gran Bretagna
Pardino d’argento Swiss Life per il Concorso internazionale
  Shipwreck di Morgan Knibbe , Paesi Bassi
Menzione speciale
  Muerte blanca di Roberto Collio, Cile
Nomination di Locarno agli European Film Awards
Premio Pianifica
  Shipwreck di Morgan Knibbe , Paesi Bassi
Premio Film und Video
Untertitelung
  Hole di Martin Edralin, Canada
    Pardi di domani (Concorso nazionale)
Pardino d’oro Swiss Life per il miglior cortometraggio svizzero   Totems di Sarah Arnold, Francia
Pardino d’argento Swiss Life per il Concorso nazionale
  Petit Homme di Jean-Guillaume Sonnier, Svizzera
Premio Action Light
per la migliore speranza svizzera
  Abseits der Autobahn di Rhona Mühlebach, Svizzera
    Piazza Grande
Prix du Public UBS
  Schweizer Helden di Peter Luisi, Svizzera
Variety Piazza Grande Award
  Marie Heurtin di Jean-Pierre Améris, Francia
    Giurie indipendenti e premi
Premio ecumenico
  Durak di Yury Bykov, Russia
Premio FIPRESCI
  Mula sa kung ano ang noon di Lav Diaz, Filippine
Europa Cinemas Label
  Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice di Lucie Borleteau, Francia
Premio Giuria dei giovani
Primo Premio miglior regista
  Durak di Yury Bykov, Russia
Premio Giuria dei giovani
Secondo Premio miglior regista
  Alive di Jung-bum PARK, Corea del sud
Premio Giuria dei giovani
Terzo Premio miglior regista
  Perfidia di Bonifacio Angius, Italia
Premio
”L’ambiente è qualità di vita”
  Mula sa kung ano ang noon di Lav Diaz, Filippine
Menzione speciale
 
  L’Abri di Fernand Melgar, Svizzera
Premio Giuria dei giovani
Miglior film Cineasti del presente
  Frère et sœur di Daniel Touati, Francia
Menzione speciale
 
  Buzzard di Joel Potrykus, Stati Uniti
Premio Giuria dei giovani
Miglior cortometraggio Concorso internazionale
  Sleeping giant di Andrew Cividino, Canada
Premio Giuria dei giovani
Miglior cortometraggio Concorso nazionale
  Abseits der Autobahn di Rhona Mühlebach, Svizzera
Menzione speciale
 
  Matka Ziemia (Mother Earth) di Piotr Zlotorowicz, Polonia
Premio FICC/IFFS
  Mula sa kung ano ang noon di Lav Diaz, Filippine
Premio FICC/IFFS
Menzione speciale
  Cavalo Dinheiro di Pedro Costa, Portogallo
Durak di Yury Bykov, Russia
Semaine de la critique
Premio SRG SSR
  15 Corners of the World di Zuzanna Solakiewicz, Polonia/Germania
La Mort du Dieu serpent di Damien Froidevaux, Francia
Semaine de la critique
Premio Zonta Club Locarno
  La Mort du Dieu serpent di Damien Froidevaux, Francia

Yes this 4th day in Locarno felt like the promotion of Noah’s Ark. Or like Forrest said : “One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night…”

If that wisdom convinced me to stay a bit longer in bed and to only start the screenings at 11 am – I missed my old movie ritual – , it actually helped with my forecast accuracy : 7 movies announced, 7 movies watched ! In my former life this would have provided me a salary increase, here I just sound like a nerd.

 

1. When Borat meets graffiti.

If I say Style Wars, a lot of people of my generation and older ones have shiny eyes and remember graffiti and hip hop early days. In 1983 was released the movie Style Wars or the New York graffiti scene revealed to the world. Well some decades later two young men in Maribor have the same epiphany and first turn their city into a mini Brooklyn, and once they face the Giuliani times in Maribor too (yes replacing the broken glass policy is global). Nothing really exciting but what happened all around the world until the moment their crew watches on YouTube a NY train on which is painted STYLE WARS II. Our two heroes have now a reason to live and die for : who created that graffiti ? And this is when their adventure starts. USA, Austria, Switzerland, Israel ; always on the move, always on trying to find a way to make it – the production is called “no money production” – and to record it. A very nice and amusing trip through different cultures with a common passion. An interesting movie, with the only downside – to me – is that it doesn’t talk about graffiti, but rather about our two fellow having naive / funny / entertaining adventures in the unknown world. Are they really debunking the system from inside by having this attitude ? It is an open question. What’s sure is that they are very cool and relaxed people on the Q&A, that their movie ‘s making most of the movie Festivals around the globe and that fame is round the corner. And isn’t what artists look for ? Isn’t it why nowadays people put their name on the walls ?

 

2. Can you beat the cube ?

PATCH is a stop motion animation of a multitude of small squares with black or white / black and white paint. Put them altogether on a wall and start the fun of creating shapes thanks to the different tones and shades of every little piece that puzzle. Impressive, specially on a very very large screen. 4 minutes of fun.

 

3. Holly countryside

This one is a bit one of my favorites of the day. And I am somehow biased. Some 2 years ago I was member of a Jury in a Polish movie Festival, and on the moment of giving the award for the best documentary, I was happy and supportive for the work of a young director and his movie about charcoal makers. Touchy, intimate, close to the nature and very respectful of the protagonists. A movie that deserved that prize. Unfortunately for me the movie maker wasn’t there when distributing the award…. Well 2 years after the director is here, in Locarno, with his Diploma movie on the official short movies selection. And all what applied to the documentary applies to the fiction I watched in La Sala. I recommend you to watch MATKA ZIEMIA. Subtle in both acting and shooting. By the way, if 2 years ago he wasn’t available for the award ceremony, it’s because he was shooting this movie !

 

4. Dig a shelter, wait for next day

Chilean movie about the tragic death of young enrolled soldiers in the Andes, MUERTE BLANCA is a technical mix of 16mm, animation but as well a clever mix of history, mythology and politics. Treating in a very creative and highly artistic way the chilean conflicts with different source of power, the movie director takes you along a nice pilgrimage to a supposedly safe mountain where devastating improbable storms can wipe you off the slopes of this wide world. Just like the history of Chile.

 

5. Hungry kitties

4 girls + a studio + recording a song + Punk attitude + wish to be famous + creativity + imagination + Feminism + feelings + hormones = PUSSY HAVE THE POWER. For more, watch again spring breakers…same colors.

 

6. Poetry and moustache

2 brothers in different locations where nothing happens for both of them, apart from being shot in very nice angles with a high-definition camera and a nice cinema lens. Does a collection of nice footage make a movie ? Somehow yes, but a bit more of a story wouldn’t hurt. VISAK VJETRA could be a long feature ; it seemed like the scouting of the locations.

 

7. Camera / Action / Nature

Mesmerizing experience in COSTA DA MORTE, a movie about a Spanish region and how the nature dictates the lifestyle and rythm of the human beings. Here not a word in vain, not a frame too much. Everything holds in a magic balance, where the fragility holds in the interest that keeps us discussing with what is on-screen. A true exchange where cinema enters the level of an experience.

 

Great day with great meetings, projects moving on and new on the way. Regarding the movies I had one very interesting day where I was deeply touched by the directors that were able to share their inner world in the most delicate and exquisite way. Tomorrow I am heading back home, to my office. Editing waiting for me. the most irritating activity to me. I am not a thinker…am I ?

 

the movies :

STYLE WARS II, Veli SIlver, Amos Angeles, CH/Slovenia, 69 min

PATCH, Gerd Gockell, CH/DE, 4 min

MATKA ZIEMIA, Piotr Zlotorowicz, Poland, 30 min

MUERTE BLANCA, Roberto Collio, Chile, 17 min

PUSSY HAVE THE POWER, Dane Komljen, FR/Bosnia, 25 min

COSTA DA MORTE, Lois Patino, Spain, 84 min

Photo du 66652309-08- à 18.30

If I thought I d be watching 7 movies again today, the truth is it went down to 3. Nevertheless powerful movies with all of them a very different proposal. But one thing in common : very good movies.

I usually like to start a screening day with the old movies. Since a couple of years the festival makes a special program where all day long in the Ex-Rex cinema  old movies are screened. If my choice of going first thing of the day to those ones, it isn’t to finish the digestion of my breakfast, but to get a nice base from where to start and understand contemporary cinema. Not really a point of comparison, rather a point of reference, just like when looking for a direction on a map. This is where today starts from.

For any director of photography,  the dream device is the steadicam. So when you have a couple of meters from you the inventor of it, Mr Garrett Brown himself, you can be about to faint. No shame. Even cries are allowed.
And when  you have the opportunity to watch on a very large screen the first movie ever where it got used and got a prize for it…hard to not be excited as a kid. Just for that,  Christmas was earlier this year.
The movie, BOUND FOR GLORY,  is a true American movie from the 70s in every aspect. David Carradine plays the young hero, Woody Guthrie, and his trip from Oklahoma to California during the American crisis of the early 20th century. The hero, a talented  folk singer moves like many ones to the western Eldorado for some dreamed better days. Rough adventure and rich experience that changes a man and defines a  country. Beautiful, poetic and a must watch !

I mentioned earlier that I moved from 7 movies to only 3 finally. Not that I gave up, but rather because I spent a couple of hours talking about my first end to end of the ON LOCATION editing. I said it many times that editing isn’t my favorite time, and therefore I need the advices, ideas and corrections from a pool of advisors. One of them, a very talented movie director gave me her inputs today. Fruitful meeting and a lot of work waiting for me when back home. Should I really come back ?

Second movie was LELAKI HARAPAN DUNIA /MEN WHO SAVE THE WORLD, or the story of a Malaysian village turning nuts after the secret arrival of a very unusual guest. Yes I am vague, because you have to find a way of watching it ! Characters, scenes, story , humor, shooting angles….everything is just perfect ! It deserves a prize. OK yes no suicide, no incest,  no naked depressed teenagers….but please give that movie a mention a least !

Third is truly a last but not least. NAVAJAZO or the ultimate corruption of human beings in the ciudad de Tijuana.  The movie director, a dislexic sociologist was gathering filmed material for his thesis that never got accepted. But all his material about crackheads , cristal  meth addicts, prostitutes and other slum dogs was definitely waiting to be turned into a movie. If some scenes are shocking, violent and pornographic, the purpose here is not to shock, but rather to contemplate the end of days. The ultimate level of corruption. For 20 dollars those poor and abandoned characters were ready to share anything. A bit disturbing ? Yes and no, as it wasn’t planned to be a movie,  but once you are winning in a casino do you stop playing ? Counting the cards is however forbiden…
This movie is truly a like or dislike object.

My conclusion for today ? As an anecdote…
I have a residual cough, this wet summer helping me in catching the flu I didn’t have for the entire winter. On the last screening , a group of 4 people, 2 girls and 2 boys, totally the type of arty hipsty just sat in front of me. After a  cough, the boy just in front of me moved , afraid of contamination. During the first 10 min of the movie, the brave girl that stayed in front of me couldn’t help sending and receiving messages on her mobile…until,  the moment we saw a penis on screen. Finally interesting worthy art ? This is how it looked like.
I will pass on the deep sarcastic laugh of the most hispterized of them.
On the Q&A session, the best came from another interesting person in the room : “the girl – the american prostitute is really a prostitute ? I mean for someone that , if I understood it well has been doing it for more than 4 years, she looks really in a good shape. Shouldn’t she be more in pieces ?

What can say after these situations ?

Tomorrow 7 movies again….probably !

The movies :
BOUND FOR GLORY,  Hal Ashby,  USA, 147 min
LELAKI HARAPAN DUNIA, Liew Seng Tat,  Malaysia/NL/DE/FR, 93 min
NAVAJAZO, Ricardo Silva, Mexico,75 min

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Nice early wake up in the cloudy and humid Locarno was the promise of a good day, and the 7 movies on my schedule the magic ticket to a day full of travels. Not really on the screening location – all of them being around the FEVI – but rather on the destinations : Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden,  New Zealand, Brasil, Spain and Argentina.

Switzerland

I remember 2 years ago and his previous movie. I remember leaving the room with the feeling of being tricked as a foreigner. Probably was I to sensitive and lacking forgiveness. Maybe too demanding or ashamed I could be assimilated to people on the vicinity of a forced departure. Maybe was I ashamed of any type of failure.
Therefore was I even more impatient and excited to the idea of watching his new movie today. The movie being THE SHELTER, the director Fernand Melgar and the plot winter in a  nuclear hazard shelter turned into a 5chf/night hotel for homeless people. Of course too much people vs the empty beds.
This time Fernand Melgar is behind the camera and has only one sound engineer. Small team for a sensitive topic. And if a certain intimacy is preserved, some other choices could be discussed. For instance the treatment of the sound : every metallic sound is overboosted transforming any official building into machines unable of any compassion. On the other side the extreme care on the voices of the homeless people is so much coming from their chest that they loose the ability of being thoughtful human beings. Other choices of characters are closely led by the same need of extreme. And I understood the strength and weakness of his cinema : Fernand Melgar isn’t a rebel. No he s someone deeply human and fragile that doesn’t accept injustice. He sees every human being the same way. A strong  equality amongst all of them, equality in their entities. And if a victim isn’t acceptable, so is it with the torturer. And if he shouts how much victims are powerless victims, he points out how much the bad guys are powerful. In this logic no need to enter the subtility of the situations ; here only matters the power shifts of the relationships. It seems admirable but dangerous too. The thin line between magnifying heros and creating stereotypes could be too easily crossed.
Unfortunately to me this is what happened in his previous movie and here too. And if last time it created a fruitful debate, this time I believe he might unwillingly give some material for right wing political parti and their stinky theories. By too often reducing the life of the sufferers to the expression of their pain, he looses track of their humanity. One magic sequence could bring  some balance back but feels like anecdotal : a full day into the life of a Romanian family and the desperate seek for money in a cold winter.

Nevertheless a movie definitely worth to be watched, shared and discussed ! And protected from getting absorbed by a political system.

Sweden

First of the 4 short movies program, ALL WE SHARE is the typical movie school project where you find steadicam shots, LGBT topic, suicide fascination and nature slow motion shots. A family, whose kid hung himself to a garden tree asks for the tree to be taken down. Nice images that maintain  us in the awaiting for something to happen. We still wait.

New Zealand

UNNATURAL HISTORY is the movie on conspiracy theories and we love that , don’t we ? Just like fortune telling. It gives a little thrill we don’t have anymore. So where is the truth in this story of physics ans sounds and New Age secrets ?

Brasil

O BON COMPORTAMENTO , or teenagers in a summer camp in the brasilian rain forest and teens early feelings or cruelty exposed. So are naked bodies, which wasn’t long to happen. Third movie and boobies. Quite within the average I think. Got to check the former years.

Spain

There’s one type of movies I have problem to grasp their purpose,  and SERTRES is a gold member of the team. Basically it asks the question of how much can we love someone, and it actually goes onto the complicated love life of an artist….well the director. Naked bits must have helped the selection.
SERTRES means to be three…so guess what is the love issue there….

Croatia

CURE , or the hard choice between two nations is the story of a young girl going back to Croatia with her dad one year after the end of the siege of Dubrovnik. Where were they before ? In Zurich,  where the girl grew up and the mother still lives. This movie shows the internal tension between two universes and cultures for the young girl. Where is she truly from and where does she want to belong to : not from here and not from there is the answer, despite all her efforts. Nevertheless the movie shows that only action defines who you are. Now if next step in this theory is that every culture can be defined by its type of acts, I hope the movie director didn’t think about it.
Another last question is …why the electric guitar riffs as the main music ? Yes my god….why ?

Argentina

I will find a gun, shoot a bullet in my head and one in my belly. I will miss my head but keep the one in the belly. Will this give more meaning to my life and my family’s destiny ?
Absurdity is the key driver of this movie’s plot. Characters , situations and motivations are lead by a passive attitude in absurde everydays. I still wonder if seeing them eating alfajores (South American pastries ) compensates the very European style of the movie. My Latino side is afraid of becoming diabetic to cope with this…
The movie title ? DOS DISPAROS

Overall great time in the theaters but a strange feeling that most of those movies focus on marginal moments of life or marginal existences. Is it good or bad, I even don’t know if applying a moral judgment makes sense. But for sure it might get disturbing as normality is far more interesting but harder to capture and to make a movie out of it. Is it because our western way of living can’t get interested in anything but the extremes ? We don’t need to achieve anything truly vital every day so movies have to be exceptional in every meaning ? Or does the artistic approach only matters on striking matters to bring the unknown to a larger audience ? I would hope so but audiences in festivals ,where 60% of the movies will never go through main stream theaters, is made out of professionals or specific audience…
As well am I afraid the hardest challenge as directors is to escape from the initial fascination for an exotic subject otherwise the end result,  the movie, will carry the feeling of the fantasy of the situations : how the higher educated sees the world through his monocultural lens. And nowadays it is pretty poor and still with a certain  superiority. ..
A major trap, a dangerous path to avoid .

Tomorrow some other 7 movies I guess. Another world tour ?

Today’s movies :

L abri / the shelter , Fernand Melgar,  Switzerland, 101 min
Allt Vi Delar / all we share, Jerry Carlsson, Sweden,  25 min
Unnatural history , Alex Blackhouse,  New Zealand, 16 min
O Bom Comportamento,  Eva Randolph, Brazil, 19 min
Sertres,  Ainara Vera, Spain, 30 min
Cure – The life of Another, Andrea Staka,  CH/HR/Bosnia Herzegovina,  83 min
Dos Disparos, Martin Rejtman,  Arg/Chile/NL/DE, 104 min

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After a a year break here I am again at the Locarno Film Festival for a couple of days of movies binge watching. The best in all that is that it is part of a movie director’s job : checking on what’s hot, networking, sharing ideas and getting inspired. And I can feel that this year is going to be very special for me.
First of all, I always planned my stay here with an early arrival and a direct jump into the deep shade of the screening locations ; this time I arrived in the late afternoon, and had a break before going to a theater.

Secondly I tend to start with a new movie, and this time I went for a 1955 Federico Fellini movie, Il Bidone.
This was a good choice, despite the frenziness of people wanting to enter the theater in a crazy rush. Just like in trains, planes or cashier line….and no matter their age.
Back to the movie, I would say not the best ever from Fellini but a great one anyway. I have the feeling that I started with a well know and famous grand cru, but just from an average millesime. Maybe this is a nice way to open my week : back to basics to better understand where we stand in current production. As well the plot of the movie gave some thoughts about the profession of directing movies. How much do we twist and play with reality and how responsible are we with what we share. The final scenes on a violent but inevitable redemption on a mountain slope proposes an idea of the downfall and impossible reach of the summit if we avoid decision making and consider the audience with disdaine.

So what am I expecting this year ? I hope some guys will reach their summit with bravery and strengh, sharing their chosen trail and accepting the vulnerability of it.

Am I asking too much ? Or just what it takes for the new generation to redefine the word Cinema ?

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Locarno is over. I mean for us. For this year.  Our days spent there were great : good food, average weather, interesting movies, bad scenarios, crowded theaters, beautiful meals, etc…

I could say it was a year like another. I could come back with the same feelings and ideas. But this year has been different. Different in many ways.

First of all, we can feel the touch of the new director. We feel this strong passion for sharp artistic content. A lot of what is being chosen tends to shift the center of gravity towards more production of Western Europe and USA. Basically a focus on the Occidental perspective of life. A very interesting choice, as we experience a financial crisis for those geographical area. And one of the consequences of a crisis, is the need for a protection of our assets. In movies, our assets are beliefs and convictions.

This shift brought a lot of movies that showed  heroes without passion, rebels without a cause, a need for change without bravery and a safe look back to our happy youth in the 80s.  As well a lack of love, a lack of humanity and more importantly : a lack of empathy and brotherhood. It seems like those productions are suffering from the crisis in a deeper way than just the lack of money : the generation that creates , write, shoots and edits such is sitting between a rock and a hard place. The model of society we knew has to change, will change and is really about to change. Our way of opening perspectives, showing the world, being the “gatekeepers of the truth” (to quote Mr Belafonte) is changing has well. And clearly that generation of film makers hesitates like our entire Occidental world between changing the paradigm and holding back a bit longer to be sure the landing will be safe. A feeling of pre-rebellion, pre-action, pre-change of times drives some of those movies we have watched.

So does the artistic line chosen by the Director, and it does change the Festival’s heart turning it into another of those dying european events like Venice or Berlin : the amount of people with the cheetah pass, the amount of professionals, the sold out premieres and therefore the lack of seats, the short list of movies that travel around the Festivals, the increased size of the special VIP area on the Piazza…is more evident than ever.

Until now Locarno had this unbelievable freedom of not getting hurt or touch or influenced as strongly as others by the global dynamics. A real festival for movie “passionates” and lovers of that art. It meant making questionable choices on the movies selection, too often qualified by extremely wide, not having a clear direction, being unequal in quality and quantity. But it had its freedom and was serving its art. The new red carpet, where more special guests  than stars will walk over is the sign of a standardization to a model of what a movie festival should be.

We all do the same. We like, when starting a new project, personal or professional, to make it look like our previous ones, in order to feel reassured and to give confidence to our partners. In our times of changes, having such attitude is for sure safe. But it is as well a clear choice of the side we want to belong to.

I want to make clear I am not calling back any nostalgia or pretend it used to be better. I just believe we entered a new phase and it will take time to everyone to adapt to the new world that is getting shaped. And for such, we need to keep our minds opened to the uncertainties that will come. The debate about Eastern European schools and Swiss ones was probably one of the most important on that topic so far ; next generations can’t get taught the way we were. They will enter a new professional model that is our responsibility to create and to provide.

Locarno Festival was 65 this year. I am afraid that some will believe we saw the early signs for retirement. Maybe are those signs only directed towards our way of thinking the cinema on this side of the world…

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Today no mise en scene at the breakfast. No men in black. Or very little. Probably the weather forecast of a shiny day defeated them. I am sure the toughest resistant must be wearing some black undies. A pity that nobody can see the perfect match with their glasses frames.

Like every day this week we tend to be a bit late for the 9 am screening, and as we cross the road in front of our hotel, a lonely street in the morning, with sharp angles shadows projected on the floor by this unexpected sun, a young man came toward us asking for a lighter. I do not smoke but my great and adventurous partner in crime does. If the UN would promote a peace program based on tobacco for sure it would work. But no political chat here, just one of those great moments when by a total chance you meet someone and start an interesting discussion, and yes guess about what ? Movies, and more specifically about yesterday’s school panel debate. I already gave my point of view on it on yesterday’s note – and will develop more in the conclusion of these festival days – but to make it short, I tend to believe there is a certain redundancy in what is being done by those schools, whilst he thinks there is a big wave coming, brought by the wind of change. Funnily enough we do live in the same place, so once back for sure we ll go on with this discussion.

We arrived to the Ex-Rex theater with a certain delay and secretly whispering the wind of change. I need to find some old tapes in the cellar.

Like said earlier, starting the day with the retrospective is a good way to get ready for the daily program. It gives a kind of base from where you can build your thoughts on, and today’s movie was a late piece of the 70s, a mix between the disillusion of a perfect and successful life in line with your parents expectation facing the free spirit of the 70s and already lost hopes of an already too old generation to fully accept the revolution. Yes a middle age crisis brought by the death of a character and the exposure of his secrets. How much strength has a man to keep control over everything ? And how strong are his relatives to accept the lies that protected them from getting hurt ? Sharp movie. Very sharp.

A nice weather equals nice walks. 10 min from piazza to Fevi, count 15 min because of flip flops injuries and we can’t make it on time for Tutti Giu. Again a sold out session. Of course as it was the premiere of an Italian movie. It grasps attention. We can’t help starting the discussion about how much it reminds my wife the time when her parents had to queue for toilet paper during the communist times. She’s from Poland. Here no toilet paper. And we have a great laugh.

This unexpected event pushed us to another place and there we are ready for L’enfant d’en haut, a Swiss movie that was released earlier this year. What a surprise to arrive late (again) and to discover all lights are on : the Swiss authors association delivers every year some grants to help in the development of 4 fictional movies and 4 documentaries. And what a surprise to see some old pals from the movie school being called on stage. It meant meeting them later.

But for now, and after those announcements, the movie. Setting the commercial / fame background of it , it got a special prize in Berlin and is the pride of Swiss Films ; the director will even be part of one of the juries at the next Mostra in Venice.
On the artistic side, it is the story of a young boy’s life spread between the valley where he lives in a certain poverty with his sister, and the ski resorts uphill where he steals all what comes around to get some cash and make their living possible.
And there goes with the hard part. I prefer saying it upfront, what will follow is a 10000% my own personal opinion and totally biased by my background…: how come, in 2012, you dare still making such type of movie ? I do not have anything, it is rather the opposite, against social movies. I love when you can make a great fiction where you describe the struggle of a social class, no matter which one. We had great examples this year with Otto Preminger’s movies. But in the case of this Swiss movie, I am doubtful on the way of presenting it. I heard some people talking about a bourgeois fantasy about the lower class. I would rather say it recalls me an old history book I had during my secondary days, a book that used to be part of the archive but that our teacher liked. A book where we still were talking about colonies in Asia and Africa….and this is the feeling I have in front of the movie : a perspective from the early 20th century when poor people and workers might still be charged for spreading plague, being undereducated and lacking any kind of pride. And if you are a female, my god poor you, no future. Zero ability to survive without a man. Ok I can hear some saying but it is a fiction and you have to understand it as a tale. Fine. Fair. But the attributes given to the characters still are the ones I mentioned above. Not to forget : only if you are rich you can easily deal with a family and maternity…with a certain detachment but you can. And if you are rich, you are a foreigner. No way you can be Swiss. And if you are Swiss, you are on top of the system or totally under.
My last point : did you know that with 100 francs you can eat for half a month by going to Aldi or any other Walmart like supermarket? And what about low cost products? I know it is a tale that got a prize for its acute social perspective….

After such a long break was needed : friends, discussions, melon, prosciutto, pizza, giant coke, ice cream, walk, sun and a free drink that contains 3x more caffein than an espresso. Yes we are middle class.

The coffee drink didn’t have the expected effect on my best half, and when watching the Korean movie , she couldn’t help having a little rest, despite a clear interest in the plot. How can we talk about justice in China, not matter if the guilt is proven or not, true or not.
A very interesting 70 min movie made out of a maximum of 20 different shooting angles. Some scenes do last 5 min with no camera movement. And if the powerful topic, because based on a true story, is a great hook, the mise en scene is clean and clear. In some places you still isolate the truth to make it weaker, in some others you dilute it amongst all the other pretended ones. Very sensitive movie , as fragile in its success as it is close to the failure.

Knowing it would be our last day,we made the choice to catch back the screening of a movie selected for the week of the critics : me, my camera and the end of the war in Libya. Actually we were afraid it would be ME, MY CAMERA, and libya. And what a great time we had with this project. Humble, serving its topic, we are within the libyan population,within the war’s rampage, within a reality. Choices are made, sides are chosen. A bit redundant at the end but is it the director’s fault or our fatigue about war images ? I told myself with a little smile that some wasted buildings weren’t as nice as some fictional war movie’s set.

Evening on the piazza, squeezed between the gang of girls – mom vacations and the lost surfers crew. On screen a nice French comedy about what my generation faces : middle age crisis and how to deal with the choices we made / believe we we forced to follow and what those commitments brought as consequences. We laughed, we almost cried. It was a great last evening.

More to come tomorrow with the wrap up of those Italian days. Stayed tuned, cheetahs are on their way !

The movies :

Such good friends, by Otto Preminger, USA, 1971, 101min
L’ enfant d’en haut (Sister), by Ursula Meier, CH/France, 2012, 97min
Wo hai you hua yao shuo (when night falls), by Ying Liang, South Korea/China, 2012, 70min
Libya hurra, by Fritz Ofner, Austria, 2012, 73min
Camille redouble, by Noemie Lvovsky, France, 2012, 115min

Another day, another die…
It could have been be my day of quotes.

As usual a great time in the breakfast room. Next to us, a couple of mature cinema industry insiders are talking about what they just watched the day before, how much only the personal attachment to the place that was shown in the movie was worth loosing time. It took me 5min to eat my croissant with butter and jam. The movie they were talking about probably lasts 90min. If watching it, I might have lost the opportunity of eating 18 croissants. Simple maths ?

So starting the day with an oldie but goodie from Otto Preminger : a nice romance from 1936 including the essential of that time : rich and adventurous young lady, free spirit opera singer and funny foreigners. A real delight that I must say works as a perfect warm up for the screening day.

Right after, we went to an interesting so called “industry event”, a panel on Swiss and eastern Europe movie schools. Poland, Czech,Bulgaria,and the 4 Swiss art and movie schools directors ready to answer and debate about common realities and main differences in their respective approach on the hard and humble work of forming the replacement of all of us here. It was interesting, but unfortunately the moderator wasn’t good enough to make it vivid and meaningful. His initial statement that not all the guests would answer to every question otherwise we would have an echo phenomenon is a perfect summary of the depth of the discussions. Too much political correctness. To be highlighted the vision of eastern Europe where you try to create a frame to let the students discover and express there wishes, whilst here you work on shaking their minds. I leave to you the pleasure to draw conclusions.

That debate worked as a second warm up that would be very useful later in the afternoon.

In between, we had the great opportunity to watch an Israeli movie called Not in Tel Aviv. Simple, direct, efficient. Chaotic, shouty, funny. Seductive, bright, violent. In other words : a kosher version of Clerks. Great time, great discovery and great movie crew. An extremely personal movie about all what a man doesn’t dare doing in his real life. A week of script writing transposed in a movie. Low budget but big heart. A success well deserved.
We stayed for the discussion with the crew, and when the first question was have you ever seen Godard’s movies…and the answer being yes even the font of the titles is inspired by, I couldn’t hide a little disappointment. I am always doubtful about the inspiration from what I tend to more and more consider as an overrated movement of the 60s. I prefer young directors being influenced by a decade more meaningful in their respective lives than the one that influenced their teachers or that is part of the history of art.

Later on , after a sandwich with lightenings and summer showers, it was time for the challenge of the day : Swiss selection of short movies. And the mornings debate came back to our minds.
I was curious of the quality, as every year, of what the Swiss young movie makers production would be. And year after year you are getting the same movies about the same topics. Only the technology changes, welcome are you my dear DSLRs, but the content doesn’t. All together we haven seen the usual I am lost in life, I don’t know where to go, I am getting crazy, I show boobs and aborted sex scene, I want to talk about the workers and lower social class life, it is hard to see my own boobs growing, I am afraid of being an adult.
Is it wrong ? No not really. They are young movie makers and so young persons in the beginning of their great and adventurous career as human beings. The outcome of it is more a puzzling question : if since the last 20 years their worries and topics are still the same and are presented the same way, does it mean the society did not change or that this great Helvetic stability that is provided enables a healthy status quo ? Again this is highly personal and everyone has a different point of view on it. Mine is that in our days when being from here enables you to travel everywhere, to spent the needed time for a full immersion in what you want to describe, we should be able to see a slight change in those productions, and not 40 year old stereotypes. For sure it ll come one day. But like my mom always repeated me, it takes different speeds and paths for everyone.

The next movie, part of the international contest was Der Glanz des Tages. An Austrian movie about an actor and it’s life meeting an old uncle and it’s memories and need for communication. An interesting project, with great actors, simple plot and harmonious development. In between fiction and documentary, the righteous acting and camera shots make out of a little project a great moment of partnership with the audience. No pretentious show off ; just the true humble idea of serving the plot and the story as it would be reality and not a fictional piece. I do recommend it.

That was for the official screening day, I mean by official the selection of movies we want to watch to get something out of it and to make comments about. The supposedly serious part, the working part, the preparing next project part, the good students summer program, as in evening, and the first one on the piazza, a delirious comedy called Bachelorette has been a great entertainment. Perfect movie for the piazza. And we really laughed a lot. In line with Apatows or Farrellis bros comedies, everyone had some nice nasty white trash fun.

The day has been really fruitful and all what we watched kept us thoughtful for different reasons. As said earlier, it could have been my days of quotes, and I believe it is the best way to conclude this post.
“Artists are the gatekeepers of the truth” That sentence was given to Harry Belafonte in his early 20s by his mentor of that time. Harry Belafonte was on stage yesterday evening, to receive an award for his career. His speech lasted 15 min, a moment of beauty where you have a human being talking to other human beings. No big theory or comments. Just the beliefs of a man that first is a citizen before being an artist. But a citizen that understands the duty of the artist, of the one who stands in the middle of the others to claim the truth. The one who should be brave enough to stand for what the others can’t : ” nowadays the role of the artist is bigger than ever in these hard times. More than ever he should serve the truth”. That sentence he said yesterday is the greatest advice you can do to someone who feels brave enough to stand in front of the others. In a certain way I always said and believed we are some chosen ones and have great duty towards our work and others, and today with the movies, the school theories, the personal inspiration and choice of topics we have seen, that sentence takes a bigger meaning, by not being totally perceivable. Freedom is what leads most of the creations, as we believe it is an indestructible achievement. I do not think so, and I do think that we have the duty to continue with taking a larger bit of responsibility on things that the others do. This is the allowance for using some others people freedom : to be the gatekeepers of the truth.

I’ll finish this with, what I hope won’t sound too negative, a quote from our neighbors after the short movie program. For info, those neighbors were grown up mature people with a long life experience behind them :
” it is interesting to watch their production, but one thing I cannot accept, is to see how much negativity and lack of hope they believe in. It seems like nothing is worth trying. It is sad.”

Yes it is.

The movies :

Under your spell, by Otto Preminger, USA, 1936, 62min
Not in Tel Aviv, by Nony Geffen, Israel, 2012, 82min
Der Glanz des Tages, by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria, 2012, 90min
Bachelorette, by Leslye Headland, USA, 2011, 87 min

Short movies :

On the beach, by Marie-Elsa Sgualdo, CH, 2012, 17min
Radio-Actif, by Nathan Hofstetter, CH, 2012, 27min
Iamina, by Christian Tschanz, CH/Iceland, 2012, 7min
Il vulcano, by Alice Riva, CH, 2012, 18min
Les ambassadeurs, by Maxime Matray and Alexia Walther, CH/FR, 2012, 15min

Second day. Breakfast room looking like a zombie hall where smiles are forbidden but black serious outfit and large frame glasses a must have….yes we made some comments, jokes and then, after enjoying a nice double portion of orange juice we moved to the first screening of the day, without knowing that we would meet some other zombies with the cheetah necklace later for other adventures.
But first things first : 208 min at 9 am, for Exodus, the masterpiece of Otto Preminger. Telling you the truth, despite our great interest for the topic (some complicated family history pushes me to watch such), we were afraid to not be able to watch the entire movie…and what a surprise to come out after 3h30 from the theater with the great feeling of having spent a highly fruitful moment.
If any specific comment should be made about the movie – a portrait of the creation of Israel – it is that we dared making choices in the 60s. Showing a certain reality with clear choices even if not absolutely in line with historical truth wasn’t much of a problem : your audience wouldn’t sue your for such or shout for scandal as it can be the case nowadays. And more interestingly watching some victims becoming rebels and having a cause and dealing with the complexity and consequences of their choices makes a real contrast with yesterdays movie.

For all our mathematics freaks that calculated it was lunch time after the movie, well first of all well done you are right, we indeed had a quick meal on a crowded restaurant with shouty hairy neighbors, taking some energy before the highly expected latest movie from the famous Swiss movie director Peter Mettler : The end of time.

And the end of our hope in some movie making in this part of the world. Do I exaggerate ? Yes of course. But I never felt tortured in a such a way when watching a movie. I liked his previous movies, maybe a certain youth and more relaxed attitude helped, but today I just couldn’t stand it.
How could I summarize it. Yes I know : when the high speed cameras of the National Geographic channel are meeting the most boring “clicheous” unbearable 14th years old tantric esotirical questions about the meaning of time. And of course, add a little of negativity end of the world we all will die by screwing the planet hint and you are done. My feeling after ? Headache, sadness, depression as first , believing I got injected some poisonous fluid called : in western countries you have time to talk about the meaning of time and what to do with it when in other places you deal pragmatically with time as no moment to rest in front of life.
Mmh I forgot to mention the last quote of the movie from Dostoievski about time, happiness and Russian dumplings. Well not really about the dumplings but it d have made a nice touch of lightness if.
My backseats neighbors are still shouting against the applauding monkeys I think.

That harsh experience pushed us to a well deserved break, as we never felt like this after a movie. By the way, how come can a movie suck you so much energy ? Why this permanent feeling of death in it, despite those amazing images ?

After the break, we had our war plan ready : be early at the Palavideo theater for a very intriguing movie called Image Problem, a fancy Swiss documentary about Switzerland . What a surprise to arrive to the entrance half an hour before and to be in a queue 3 times bigger than the theaters capacity. And yes here I go again with some little complain : I ve seen this happening more and more often within the last 3 years in this Festival. Rationalization ? Better profit ? Or too many guys with the cheetah pass ? Opened question addressed to the team of the event….Locarno, we have a Seats Problem.

Nevertheless we decided to move on time to the other side of the city for a movie about the Sagrada Familia and there again, great surprise to arrive and to be told it is sold out !
Another 2 minutes of complains (my god are we becoming locals ?) and we are forced to go and watch a totally out of our radar movie : Les Gouffres, by Antoine Barraud. Quite a surprise. First of all, it is a 64 min format. Secondly, it has only two main characters and one exists outside of the frame, leaving the other, a woman, alone vs her fears and emptiness of life. Beautiful images of some south American place, intriguing atmosphere of a person that is loosing her sense of reality. A very classic movie in the development of the plot, where you can totally feel that there was a clear premise that turned into some metaphorical treatment and script. Why not after all ? This is the holy code that is being taught in most of the cinema schools. A nice surprise worth being watched despite some depressing topic.

In order to get ready for the evening, a quick Indian food and the critical choice : another depressing movie but in the piazza grande ? Or a movie from the jury in a closed theater ? A brand new one vs an old one ?
After the afternoons experience we decided to apply an old Locarno rule : movies from the jury are always the best ones you can watch ! And there we are sitting in the Ex Rex , ready for Roger Avary’s Rules of Attraction movie. What a delight ! 110 min flew by with a great pop and irrespective rhythm ! The movie was made in 2002 but still seemed so actual with a great dynamic and idea of the mise en scene.

A strange day was it, and for the first time since a long period I got kind of angry. Indeed what I learned today is that time is relative, as well as the matters that bother us. It is impossible to make a scale or to say that what is your interest is weaker or stronger than mine. But what, for sure can be criticized is the maturity of your involvement in what you do, in the movies you make. Today I ve seen 4 different ways of dealing with life, past, fantasies and obsessions. In every case you could see a different approach, a different treatment but as well a clear split between a pretty mature approach of life with a responsible position vs a totally naive and safe posture. The old movies ( Exodus and The Rules of Attraction) are movies where the movie director takes the risk to not be right, not be totally exact and maybe not sure about everything but you see decisions and a statements in the choices and in the point of view. It doesn’t matter if you can be criticized, you know it is part of the game : you are not afraid of your convictions even if they don’t englobe every possible point of view.
In the two recent ones, I felt some fear from the directors, fear to be wrong, fear to dare claiming an idea, a political view and fear to not be artistic enough. An unpleasant mirror of todays western societies where , yes indeed it is the end of time, you think nothing more can be achieved, changes are possible but let’s do it quietly and almost secretly and stepping out of the range is too dangerous. Stick to the definition of your role. Any perturbation of the systems is not welcomed so let’s not be the one who do it. And actually, if there is any role – I insist that is is my personal perspective – where claiming out loud an idea is possible and even a preponderant part of the costume is as movie director. Even if you are into poetic, non narrative sensitive conceptual work, you have to put some strong content in it. Don’t mix up content and treatment. The most scary and disturbing premises can be presented in the most eclectic way, but when you seat in front , you can feel it.

Tomorrow another day full of cheetahs, badges, journalists, hipsters, bikes, Swiss Germans, Italian food, wine, naked people on the movies, flip flops, rain, boiled eggs for breakfast, fake croissants, smelly toilets, red wet carpets, zombies, sleeping audience, in a word : a relative day in the festival.

The movies :

Exodus, by Otto Preminger, USA, 1960, 208 min
The End of Time, by Peter Mettler, CH/Canada, 2012, 109 min
Les Gouffres, by Antoine Barraud, France, 2012, 65 min
The Rules of Attraction, by Roger Avary, USA/Germany, 2002, 110 min