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Carlo Chatrian • Director of the Locarno Film Festival

An eclectic event focusing on indie film


- We discussed the role of festivals in promoting films with the director of the festival, Carlo Chatrian

Carlo Chatrian  • Director of the Locarno Film Festival

"It will be an eclectic festival," says Carlo Chatrian, who has been the artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival since the 2013 edition. “Our event brings together and unites, using the universal language of film, genres, formats, styles and stories, which are projected onto the big screen and imprint onto each of us without barriers or borders". 

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With a budget that is increasing – this year standing at €13 million – as opposed to decreasing, as is regrettably happening with many other festivals, this year’s 68th edition (which will be held from 5 to 15 August) will feature 14 world premieres and many first and second films in the international competition, highlighting the historical vocation of this important European festival for finding new films. "At Locarno we’ll have a group of directors who make films in a way that’s a bit different to what the general public is used to seeing. Acclaimed directors and writers of the new generation such as Pietro Marcello, Rick Alverson, and Sina Ataeian Dena". 

Cineuropa: How important are festivals in promoting and distributing an independent film?
Carlo Chatrian:
 "It depends what you mean by independent film, because an independent film made by Scorsese or Demme doesn’t need festivals if not to use them as a press opportunity. For films like some of those that will be competing at Locarno – including those of big directors like Chantal Akerman, Andrzej Zulawski, Hong Sangsoo, Alex van Warmerdan – festivals obviously play an extremely important role because they help spread awareness of the film, which is essential. Also because independent film has grown hugely, whilst the offer of films, above all in theatres, has certainly not expanded at the same pace. Then, if we look a little further into the future this could become a big issue. Releases are becoming increasingly day-and-date, that is, targeted and always changing: in such a system, festivals are either like Locarno, hosting global premieres, or they complement this type of release. Then you have to take the possibility of a  transition to online platforms into account, making it easy for films to reach beyond their national borders”.

How much interest is there on the part of foreign buyers in Locarno, which doesn’t have a proper market but does have an Industry Office?
"Ours is not a true market because it doesn’t have any stands, and it wouldn’t make sense to have them, but the work that Nadia Dresti and our whole industry sector does is actually very important and the sector itself is expanding. Not only in terms of the initiatives we promote but because there’s interest from buyers, mostly American. Since I’ve been at Locarno I’ve seen a dozen or so come looking for films that are considered ‘marginal’ but can be released in theatres due to their specific position in the market and the well-defined target audience! Last year I was taken aback by the way a film like La sapienza [+see also:
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by Eugène Green, on the great Baroque architect Francesco Borromini, could be purchased, distributed in the United States and described by the chief film critic at Variety magazine, Scott Foundas, as one of the five most interesting films of the year. Some of these films do travel, and give us high hopes for the future". 

There’s even a link with EXPO 2015, which is currently being held in Milan.
"Yes, a piece of Expo will also be at Locarno, as we have the pleasure of screening, as part of the Piazza Grande section, one of the films being shown at Expo as an installation: Pastorale cilentana, the latest film by Mario Martone, a great Italian and international director and a friend of the Locarno Film Festival. It’s a little gem of poetry lasting 19 minutes, without words, which will be used to introduce one of the evenings of screenings in Piazza Grande". 

(Translated from Italian)

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