66th Locarno International Film Festival
Switzerland, August 7 - August 17 2013
Thunderstorms, audible from within the Kursaal press screening venue, kicked off the first days of the Locarno International Film Festival’s 66th edition. Nestled at the foot of mountains beside Lake Maggiore, the ten-day event has never been short on dramatic atmosphere. This year a complete George Cukor retrospective featured no less than 50 of the Hollywood great’s films, and brought Jacqueline Bisset and Faye Dunaway as guests. But while paying attention to its red carpet, the festival is more focused on new discoveries. Sandwiched as it is between Cannes and Venice, with the pressure on securing films that that entails, cinematic innovation and fresh talent is at the heart of its programming.
The main jury was this year headed by Filipino auteur Lav Diaz. Of the 20 films in the International Competition, the jury awarded its top prize to Catalan director Albert Serra’s Story of My Death (Historia de la meva mort), which daringly brought the historical figures of Casanova and Dracula together in a radical, weighty period depiction of the move from rationalism to dark romanticism. Its Special Mention went to Joaquim Pinto’s documentary What Now? Remind Me (E agora? Lembra-me), in which the Portuguese director chronicles a year in his life trialling HIV drugs, and spreads his net ambitiously wider for a moving examination of the human condition in general, our place in the cosmos and our definition by viruses.
The FIPRESCI jury was also judging the International Competition, and found Pinto’s film most deserving of our award in a selection that was stylistically very diverse. It included everything from a French melodrama (Une autre vie, by Emmanuel Mouret) to a Peruvian crime thriller (El Mudo from Daniel and Diego Vega) and a found-footage documentary on Italian colonial Abyssinia (Pays barbare by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi). Established auteurs Hong Sang-soo and Corneliu Porumboiu also weighed in with new features in their respective distinctive styles. The rain didn’t last long in Locarno — but even when sunshine reigned, the wide-ranging programme made sure that indoors in the cinema was the place to be. (Carmen Gray)
Locarno International Film Festival: www.pardo.ch