Olivier Père • Director of the Locarno Film Festival
by Emmanuel Cuénod
11/07/2012 - His first two years directing the Locarno International Film Festival were a success, and now is no time to start slacking. For his third year running the Ticino-based event, French artistic director Olivier Père has planned an ambitious programme, "a stimulating mixture" of cinematographic essays and more classic films, combining drama and comedy.
This year, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul will head the jury at Locarno. What, according to you, are the essential qualities for a good juror?
A jury's composition is very important to get right. Of course, one has to find great artists or people who are well-known, liked by the public, and of international renown. But just that is not enough. They must, above all, love cinema. Many artists - I will not give any names - are not necessarily film lovers, and even less so when it comes to other people's films.
What kind of films will festival-goers see this year?
This year, the mixture of genres has become even more obvious, with a strong presence of documentaries - and even, beyond that, of what I would call "cinematographic essays". The latter are films that question the limits between fiction and documentary, classic narrative forms and more original forms. Beside that, there will be much more conventional, fictional works, that are narrative films. There will be powerful stories and quite light stories, as there will also be comedies.
Was the selection difficult to make?
Not at all. For the competition, it was very simple. Over the last two years, we have acquired the loyalty of a cinematic community and reinforced our international reputation. This meant that convincing auteur filmmakers - some well-known, others less so - to take part in the festival was very easy. But this year, I was expecting or knew of less films by filmmakers whose career I had been following. So we set off on an adventure, and we were lucky to find works and filmmakers that we really liked. I think the competition is generally of a very high level, with a marked American presence.
And what of its highlights? There will also be a homage to Johnnie To…
I have been seeing him and his films for several years now. I had already invited him to Locarno, but as he shoots and produces up to three or four films a year - and often at the same time! - it's always very tricky for him to find time. Since, he seems to have slightly slowed down his pace. As he now only makes one film a year, he has managed to find the time to come. I am also delighted to have been able to set up a retrospective of Otto Preminger's work, to follow on from the 2010 and 2011 retrospectives to Ernst Lubitsch and Vincent Minelli. We will be able to show all his films except one now no longer accessible because of copyright issues.
Filmmakers of the Present has been extended.
Yes, there will be an extra award. We have decided to concentrate our efforts on this new section to highlight it next to the International Competition. The new award will be handed out to the best director in the Filmmakers of the Present section, for which we have reduced the number of films to 13 or 14 this year. The competition will include 19 or 20.