Carlo Chatrian • Director, Locarno Film Festival
“The challenge is to show works that are strong enough to take on a huge screen”
by Giorgia Del Don
- Carlo Chatrian, the artistic director of the Locarno International Film Festival, talks to us about the 69th edition
Carlo Chatrian, who has been the artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival since 2013, highlights the importance of the Locarno-based festival as a platform for great filmmakers who are already established, as well as and above all for young blood ready to shake up the codes of film.
Cineuropa: The majestic Piazza Grande will this year play host to a huge variety of films. What were the selection criteria?
Carlo Chatrian: Obviously we regularly host films from certain countries – I’m thinking of America and European countries such as France, Germany and Italy, even though there are differences – due to the production strength of those industries and the linguistic codes they use which are recognised by audiences immediately. The real challenge is to show works from other film industries that are strong and powerful enough in terms of their visual content and story to take on a huge screen like the one in Piazza Grande. This year we were moved by stories from film industries that haven’t been represented at Locarno in years. I’m referring, for example, to the film from Mozambique, Comboio de Sal e Açucar, Korean film Teo-neol, and Malaysian film Interchange. The variety of films on offer is important because one of the festival’s core objectives is to open up new pathways in the film market. Piazza Grande has a selection of films that are highly anticipated or have already secured distribution, like Jason Bourne or Ken Loach’s latest endeavour I, Daniel Blake [+see also:
film profile], on the one hand, and works like German film Paula or Frédéric Mermoud’s latest endeavour Moka, on the other.
Once again this year, a lot of Swiss films have been chosen for Locarno. Do you think Swiss film is doing well? Is there a common thread that unites these films beyond their linguistic differences?
It’s difficult to group Swiss film according to just one trend, on the one hand because the industry is built on three main linguistic regions, meaning that every production has a different market of reference to some extent, and on the other, because historically there have always been two models and schools of thought: documentaries and fictional films. For this year’s edition we took all these differences into account, and we’re proud to have two films from Ticino in our Filmmakers of the Present section. As well as fictional films, which this year represent the majority, we also have a documentary being shown out of competition by great Swiss documentary maker Nicolas Wadimoff: Jean Ziegler, the Optimism of Willpower [+see also:
film profile]. From a generational point of view, it gives me great pleasure to highlight, and it’s a trend that has characterised Swiss film in recent years, that two of the films in the International Competition were filmed by young directors: first-time director Michael Koch, and Milagros Mumenthaler, who won the Golden Leopard in 2011. Neither film (Marija [+see also:
interview: Michael Koch
film profile] and La idea de un lago [+see also:
interview: Milagros Mumenthaler
film profile]) was filmed in Switzerland. Milagros Mumenthaler returned to Argentina where he studied and has family, and Michael Koch returned to Germany. It’s a multicultural Switzerland that likes to look beyond its borders, as it has done often in recent years.
Can you recommend any films that are not to be missed and directors we should keep an eye on?
This year’s programme is characterised by its emphasis on young directors, on lesser-known names. This year the Locarno Film Festival will focus in particular, even though it wasn’t our original intention, on films from South Asia, partially a result of the Open Doors section. Of the many films we’ll be screening, there is one that portrays the point of encounter between people, cultures and, in this case, different producers, particularly well. It’s called Hema Hema and is the latest production by Bhutanese director Khyentse Norbu, an important figure in his country for both religious and cultural reasons. His latest film is very much rooted in the tradition of his country, and is the fruit of a co-production partnership between talented British producer Jeremy Thomas and a young producer from Bhutan. This in itself is an excellent example of an encounter between European and South-east Asian production systems.
(Translated from Italian)
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