Michael Koch returns with A Piece of Sky
- Halted on its tenth day of filming, the Swiss director’s second feature film has landed in Locarno thanks to the new Films After Tomorrow initiative
Already well-acquainted with the Locarno Film Festival where he presented his first feature film Marija [+see also:
interview: Michael Koch
film profile] in 2016 (in the International Competition), the Swiss actor, screenwriter and director Michael Koch is repeating the feat with his second work A Piece of Sky.
Despite the unexpected, abrupt end brought to the film shoot by the COVID-19 pandemic, A Piece of Sky has successfully landed at the Locarno Film Festival, where it has been selected as one of twenty projects (ten international and ten Swiss) to take part in the Films After Tomorrow line-up, an initiative devised for this special edition of Locarno 2020 with a view to kickstarting a film industry which is sadly at a standstill. Twenty films which have been halted and blocked as a result of the safety measures imposed by the pandemic are being presented, enriched by meetings and masterclasses with directors selected in collaboration with the Locarno Academy. There are five awards up for grabs (with the winners being announced on 14 August), all of which are intended to provide support to these works in progress: two 2020 Pardi awards worth €70,000 each and, new prizes, the Campari Award, Swatch Award and SRG SSR Award.
Michael Koch’s second work A Piece of Sky was one such film which had to bow to these safety measures at the peak of its production, halting a creative process by then in full swing. As with Marija, in Michael Koch’s second feature we’re confronted with characters having to contend with complex situations and subsequently finding themselves profoundly changed. A Piece of Sky unfolds in a remote mountain village populated by ancestral characters. Central to the story are Anna and Marco, a couple who live a tranquil life, until shortly after their wedding when Marco is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. The illness causes him to gradually lose control of his urges. These sudden changes in behaviour, which Marco almost finds liberating in the first instance, soon turn out to be tricky to face up to and to manage. The illness becomes a battle ground, an ordeal for all those involved. First and foremost, for Anna, who must contend with her partner’s changes in behaviour which veer from violence to irrepressible sexual urges. Despite social isolation and other consequences of the illness, Anna manages to maintain a connection with Marco and to sustain a love which seems to know no bounds. Ensconced within a breath-taking landscape, the themes tackled by the film are universal: will the feelings binding Anna to Marco survive intact, despite the extreme conditions they’re contending with? What happens to love when one partner drastically changes, forever? Does it evaporate or, on the contrary, grow stronger? The film was shot in close collaboration with those living in the mountainous village where the story unfolds, and all of its characters are played by those very same inhabitants, who Koch describes as “shaped by hard work, the wind and the climate”.
Produced by Zurich’s Hugo Film in co-production with German firm Pandora Film, alongside SRF, SRG SSR and Arte, A Piece of Sky was fuelled by the thoughts and beliefs of these mountain folk, which became the backdrop and beating heart of the film.
(Translated from Italian)
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