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LOCARNO 2019

Lili Hinstin • Artistic director, Locarno Film Festival

"I want the Locarno Film Festival to be very free in its choices"

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- We met with Locarno Film Festival's new artistic director Lili Hinstin to discuss the 72nd edition of the event, as well as her ambitions for the festival and what’s new in this year’s offering

Lili Hinstin • Artistic director, Locarno Film Festival

Cineuropa sat down with Lili Hinstin, now in charge of the Locarno Film Festival, to pick her brains about this year’s edition of the event, unspooling 7 to 17 August, and to find out more about her hopes for the festival and the new developments for 2019.

Cineuropa: What kind of personal touch are you looking to give to the festival? What are your short and long-term goals?
Lili Hinstin: I want the Locarno Film Festival to be very free in its choices. From an industry perspective, for example, I’m not going to choose a film just because it’s Swiss. I’m not going to make any diplomatic choices. We decided that if there weren’t any good Swiss films, then we weren’t going to select any just for the sake of it. I don’t think we would be doing Swiss film any favours in that respect. As it happens, this year we’ve seen some excellent Swiss films demonstrating very free-thinking filmmaking approaches, and notably films which testify to a new generation of significant filmmakers. It’s an important condition which we’ve set ourselves, and an important political decision for us as the biggest Swiss festival in existence. Clearly, we have a special interest in national cinema, and we do want there to be Swiss films in the festival, but we don’t want them to be selected purely for representational purposes.

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In the draft programme I’m working with, all of the films must tie into a particular aesthetic and, therefore, a particular approach. They must be open, but also meticulous and insightful. In short, they should be a reflection on the art of film.

In the international competition, there are a lot of European films, especially French productions and co-productions. How do you explain this?
In my opinion, there are only two French films in the International Competition: those by Nadège Trebal (Douze Mille [+see also:
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) and Damien Manivel (Isadora's Children [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Damien Manivel
film profile
]
). Terminal Sud [+see also:
film review
trailer
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]
by Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche is listed as French, but he’s actually an Algerian filmmaker. It’s a film which talks about the history of Algeria, so I see it as more of an Algerian film than a French one. The Fever [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Maya Da-Rin
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]
by Maya Da-Rin, which is a co-production between Brazil, France and Germany, is, in my opinion, very Brazilian, with its Brazilian filmmaker and setting. It’s just like in Cannes, where 50% of productions and co-productions in the programme are French. It shows just how strong the French economic system is. It’s an economy which is also open to international collaborations and which helps and supports films from all around the world.

In terms of the high number of European films, this is something the selection committee also picked up upon. There are, indeed, many European films in the programme. It’s a trend we’ve also seen in other big festivals this year, but I couldn’t explain it to you. Of course, even if we do look for a balance in the programme and for the films to come from all over the world - from China or Latin America, for example - it can’t always be the case. When we make our final decision, what counts is the cinematographic work itself. Our role isn’t to provider viewers with an international panorama of films. Some artistic directors make their selections more along these lines, but not me.

What place is there for young filmmakers in the programme, and in the parallel sections and activities?
In the Locarno programme itself, there is a whole section (Filmmakers of the Present) devoted to filmmakers’ first steps in the industry (first, second and third films). This is the place where we find very radical, ground-breaking, free-thinking films. But, as in the rest of the programme, there’s a mix; it’s very eclectic.

I work with some rather young selectors, especially on the short films selection committee, which is led by Charlotte Corchète, who is only 26. This makes for a generational synergy between the people choosing the films and the audience we’re targeting. It also boils down to the way in which we are going to market and organise the programme; for example, we’re going to pitch the second halves of the evenings in the Piazza Grande as “Crazy Midnight” screenings. We’re doing this in order to reach out to a young audience whom we think are likely to want to go to see a film at midnight. It’s quite a fun way of giving things a name, of letting them know that it’s for them and open to them. Also, more concretely, there’s a wonderful project called BaseCamp put forward by a long-term collaborator of the festival, Stefano Knuchel, who’s also heading up the Filmmakers Academy. The town of Losone, next to Locarno, has made a huge, old army barracks available to the festival, which has been filled with 200 beds. This will allow us to accommodate around 270 youngsters for the duration of the festival, for a nominal fee of 100 Swiss francs, accreditation included. It’s a hugely pragmatic initiative which will allow younger audiences with fewer resources to gain access to the festival.

Is there a renewal of Swiss cinema underway?
Undeniably so, in respect of young Swiss filmmakers. There’s the likes of Basil Da Cunha in the International Competition. His second feature film (O fim do mundo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Basil Da Cunha
film profile
]
) is highly anticipated. Then, opening the Filmmakers of the Present competition is a remarkable film by a young filmmaker called Klaudia Reynicke, Love Me Tender. It’s an extremely free-thinking and daring film. There’s also the latest film by festival regulars Maya Kosa and Sergio da Costa, L’île aux oiseaux. There’s definitely a generational renewal going on.

(Translated from French)

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