11 August 2017.
Switzerland’s most important film festival, LOCARNO, celebrated its 70th birthday this year.
With its penchant for “new” cinema, its exquisite setting of the Lago Maggiore, velvety mountains and its magical nightly screenings of films on the gigantic Piazza Grande (seating up to 8,000!), it draws more cinephiles every year.
Despite incredibly high temperatures in the first days and some stormy evenings in the second part, the crowds kept coming, lining up patiently to get into the various venues for all sorts of films, especially young, experimental works by directors from around the world. Some very good, others of dubious quality.
As mentioned often, Locarno is a truly public festival, for everyone can participate in the Q&A sessions with the cast and crew after each film in the Competition section, at the outdoor Forum.
Excellent organisation, many different sections, and some fine stars and creators, including French actress Fanny Ardent, veteran Russian director Alexandre Sokurov and Persian actress Golshifteh Farahani, there with their films, were part of the lineup.
My favorite works were the outstanding Palestinian film WAJIB, about a father-son relationship and their different views on life and politics; the tender, quirky Romanian film CHARLESTON, about a husband and a lover mourning the same woman; and two superb documentaries – from Germany, THE POETESS, about a courageous, veiled Saudi woman who dares to write poems about the injustice towards women under Islam; and DISTANT CONSTELLATIONS, a wonderfully moving and amusing look at a retirement home in Turkey, with all sorts of endearing characters.
Happy Birthday, Locarno! Let’s hope for more better films next year.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.